Theresa May’s speech did not go far enough, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said UK prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech did not go far enough to allow talks with the EU to progress next month.

British prime minister Theresa May delivering a speech in Florence, which set out her plans for a transitional Brexit period.

After Mrs May proposed a two-year transition period for the UK after it quits the EU in a speech in Florence, Mr Varadkar said he gave her comments a “guarded welcome”.

“I don’t think it is a game- changer,” he said. “I give it a guarded welcome. I don’t think it is enough to say to allow us to move on to the next phase of negotiations, we will need more clarity and more progress.”

Mrs May delivered her speech in Florence where she outlined the Brexit process and the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The Taoiseach, who spoke to Mrs May yesterday morning, welcomed that she had referenced the common travel area, the Northern Ireland peace process and that both sides in the negotiations do not want any physical structures at the border.

“I think it is a genuine effort by the prime minister to move things along,” he said. “We will, of course, need further clarity and further understanding as to how a transition period might work.”

However, he welcomed her proposal for a transitional period as a step in the right direction. Both leaders will meet for talks on Monday in London.

Sinn Féin’s Brexit spokesman David Cullinane said: “Theresa May’s Brexit speech was high on rhetoric, but short on detail.

“It does not deal with all of the key issues which impact on Ireland. It has not dealt with the issue of the potential of a border, it has not dealt with how the Good Friday Agreement will be protected and the rights of citizens in the North.”

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