WASHINGTON - British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to propose a two-year transition for the period after Britain’s formal departure from the European Union on March 29, 2019, the so-called Brexit.
May’s office released excerpts from a speech she will deliver Friday in Florence, Italy, emphasizing that both sides share “a profound sense of responsibility’’ to ensure that Brexit goes “smoothly and sensibly.”
On the eve of her speech, May met with Cabinet ministers for more than two hours to finalize Britain’s position.
Ministers have had tense discussions over crucial issues such as the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc and the status of EU citizens in Britain, among others.
The tensions exploded into public view last week when Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson outlined his own vision for life outside the European Union. He argued for a sharp break with the bloc, a stance that dismays moderates who fear this will wreck Britain’s relations with the world’s biggest trade bloc.
May’s speech comes before the fourth round of negotiations with the EU partners, which cannot move forward until the pending issues are resolved, although Britain wants to begin discussing future links, including trade and security cooperation.
While British media are reporting that May would offer to pay $24 billion during the transition period, the excerpts do not include a figure.