Theresa May’s Brexit pitch today will deliver to the EU ‘divorce terms that she hopes it can’t refuse’, says the Times. An early draft of her speech suggests she will start by explaining the choice of location, Florence; a city, the PM will say, ‘that taught us what it is to be European’. This begs the questions of what it means to be ‘both British and European in the age of Brexit’, says the Times. Expect to hear mention of Britain being ’outward-looking’ and ‘global’ once again. But given that today’s address ‘must be the speech of her life’ she cannot rest on saying things she has already said. When she stands up in the basilica of Santa Maria Novella this afternoon, May ‘can make a virtue of her venue by distinguishing neatly between Europe and the EU, and flattering both’. She should, too, paint a ‘brighter vision of the future than she has managed to conjure so far’, concludes the Times.
The Prime Minister’s message to Brussels looks ‘generous and sensible’, says the Sun. Which is exactly why, according to the paper, ‘Brussels will rubbish it’. The EU can only think of Brexit as being ‘painful and costly for Britain’. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said as much, points out the paper. So any offer made by Britain will, inevitably, not ‘be painful or costly enough’. The good news, though, is that what the likes of Barnier thinks ‘matters little’. After all, if Angela Merkel and President Macron ‘think it’s reasonable’ then Brexit talks can proceed whether the EU likes it or not. So what should May actually offer? And can she win over he fellow EU leaders? A transition deal looks like a sensible step for the time being. But the paper argues for two key red lines to be included: ‘First, the transition must be strictly limited’, says the Sun, which insists Britain must be out of the EU by 2021. This means ‘full control of our borders, laws and money’. Secondly, any offer made by Britain must be made ’in exchange for a free trade deal with the EU’. The Sun says it is not optimistic that ‘Mrs Merkel will agree’ to the plan. So Britain ‘may still have to walk away’ – and it’s vital that the government prepares for a ‘no deal’ scenario. After all, ‘any further compromise risks betraying the referendum result’ – and the 17.2 million voters who backed Brexit ‘would never forgive that’.
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