The transition period and why the prime minister almost got upstaged
How do you solve a problem like the foreign secretary?
Oh Boris ?.
This week was supposed to be all about Theresa May. With parliament in recess for party conference season, the prime minister has been on a whirlwind international tour.
First stop Canada to talk post-Brexit trade with Justin Trudeau, then on to New York to address the UN. She was to top off the week with a Brexit climax. Trailed for weeks as a “landmark speech”, against the backdrop of the carefully chosen city of Florence, all eyes should have been on the prime minister.
But there’s no accounting for Boris Johnson. Our tousle-haired foreign secretary managed to grab all the headlines, kicking off with a self-penned 4000-word essay for a Sunday newspaper: “My vision for a bold, thriving Britain enabled by Brexit.” In the article, he then preceded to bring up THAT £350 million for the NHS. Yes he opened up that can of worms ??♀️ — and there was wriggling for days.
- Exclusive: Boris Johnson – Yes, we WILL take back £350m from EU for NHS
- Boris Johnson left isolated as row grows over £350m post-Brexit claim
- Boris Johnson 'won't resign' over Brexit intervention fallout, Foreign Secretary insists
For a man who claims he has no interests in the top job, Boris Johnson certainly did a good job of stealing the prime minister’s limelight for most of the week.
The prime minister pulled the focus back to deliver her big important speech on Friday. Billed as a conciliatory “generous offer” to help break the deadlock ahead of the next round of negotiations in Brussels next week, when the prime minister’s speech finally came the message was more about delay rather than exit. The theme of the speech was a soft two-year transition period with tens of billions for the EU to cushion the impact of Brexit.
- Theresa May confirms Britain will pay tens of billions of pounds to the EU after Brexit
- May Brexit Speech: Nothing Has Changed. And Won't For 4 Years
Whilst the prime minister reportedly had the backing of the cabinet before making the speech, the tone of her speech and the financial olive branch she offered to the EU is unlikely to be viewed favourably by the hard-line Brexiteers. And as for the EU, is the “generous offer” generous enough? Over to you Mr Barnier ?.
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