Her intention was to clear up a lot of the confusion about Brexit's details, as well as to restart the stalled talks on her country's future trading arrangement with the EU, but she instead managed to do neither of these. The only surefire thing mentioned in her speech is that the Brexit will happen on March 2019, but the proposed two-year transitional period afterwards displeased her supporters who thought that it was too long while simultaneously upsetting her critics who thought that it wasn't long enough.
While previously supporting a so-called "Hard Brexit", May now seems to have flip-flopped once the negotiations got tough, and her obvious doubts about the procedure have emboldened London mayor Sadiq Khan to suggest that the Labour Party push for a second Brexit referendum on whether to accept any prospective deal's conditions. This could in effect result in the indefinite delaying of Brexit and its de-facto nullification if the people vote against any hard-fought deal, which would make it unlikely that another one would be negotiated in the foreseeable future. For all intents and purposes, May's Florence speech has now thrown the entire Brexit process into doubt since it's clear that she's having second thoughts about going through with it now that the EU is playing hardball on the terms of the UK's future access to the single market.
The two sides enjoy a very robust trading relationship that May wants to preserve, but Brussels is plainly upset that London decided to leave and therefore wants to punish it. This is in turn putting pressure on the UK to enter into various socio-economic concessions as the stalled talks crawl to a halt, hence May's undeclared reversal from a "hard" Brexit to a "soft" one. The inertia has now shifted against the UK because its leader is showing that she's willing to engage in unilateral concessions without yet receiving anything in return, which is a strategic dynamic that the EU will certainly exploit to its full benefit. With all of the questions swirling around Brexit now, one can't help but wonder whether it's to be, not to be, or "may" be?
Inam Rana, UK-based lawyer who also serves as the editor of the online magazines Mukaalma and Dialogue Times, and Clifton Ellis, British-Jamaican geopolitical observer commented on the issue.
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