PRIME Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit set out her plans for an implementation period leading to a “new alliance” with Brussels. David Hughes looks at the details, and the reaction

The Northern Echo:

What are the key points of Mrs May’s plan?

Neither the UK or the EU will be in a position to "smoothly" implement the new arrangements on the formal date of Brexit - March 29 2019 - so a transitional period is required.

During that period, market access would "continue on current terms" and the framework for the "strictly time-limited period" would be EU rules and regulation.

EU citizens would continue to be free to live and work in the UK during the implementation period - but there will be a registration scheme for them.

The implementation period could last for about two years - but some aspects of the new arrangements could be implemented sooner.

The UK will honour its commitments under the EU budget to 2020, thought to be around £18bn (20bn euro) so no other EU country will "pay more or receive less" as a result of Brexit.

Neither an approach based on European Economic Area membership, or a "traditional" free trade deal such as the Ceta agreement with Canada is right for the UK-EU partnership, instead there should be a "creative solution to a new economic relationship".

There is "no need to impose tariffs" where none currently exist.

Regulatory standards will be protected or strengthened as Britons do not want "shoddy goods, shoddy services, a poor environment or exploitative working practices".

An "appropriate mechanism" should be found to deal with disputes about the trading arrangements as it would not be appropriate for either the European Court of Justice or UK courts to have jurisdiction over the agreement.

A treaty would enshrine a "bold new strategic agreement" on security co-operation, taking in diplomacy, defence and development.

An agreement on citizens' rights will be incorporated "fully into UK law" and British courts will be able to take into account European Court of Justice rulings to help ensure "consistent interpretation".

How has Europe reacted?

THE European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described the speech as “constructive”, and said Mrs May showed “a willingness to move forward”.

“We look forward to the UK’s negotiators explaining the concrete implications of the speech. Our ambition is to find a rapid agreement on the conditions of the UK’s orderly withdrawal, as well as on a possible transition period,” he said.

Manfred Weber, leader of the centre-right European People’s Party in the European Parliament and a key ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the UK position was still unclear and he is “even more concerned now”.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “In substance PM May is bringing no more clarity to London’s positions. I am even more concerned now. The clock is ticking and time is running faster than the government believes in London.”

What do the opposition parties say?

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn said the only advance was the Prime Minister listening to his party and realising the need for a transition period “on the same basic terms” to provide stability for businesses and workers.

Mr Corbyn accused Mrs May and her Conservative Cabinet colleagues of spending more time “negotiating with each other” than with the EU.

He said: “Fifteen months after the EU referendum the Government is still no clearer about what our long-term relationship with the EU will look like.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said Mrs May was admitting the UK will have to pay a “hefty Brexit bill” which amounts to several billions of pounds.

He said: “Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.”

How about the Conservatives?

The Northern Echo:

FOREIGN Secretary Boris Johnson said: “As the Prime Minister rightly said we are going to have a transition period and after that, of course, we are going to be taking back control of our borders, of our laws and of our destiny.

“I think what was so uplifting about this speech was it was positive, confident about what Britain can do, but also about our relations with the rest of the EU, and I think what it sets out is a very attractive vision of a strong Europe buttressed and supported by a strong UK.”

Pro-Brexit Conservative former cabinet minister Owen Paterson expressed concern about the proposed two-year transition period.

“As long as we still have that transition period we are still bound in by European rules and we cannot get cracking on opening up markets around the world,” he said.

He said that ministers should now start making preparations for the prospect that the UK will leave the EU without a trade deal.

“We just want simple, reciprocal free trade on a zero-tariff basis respecting each other’s standards and regulations,” he said.