May hints at transitional deal to avert Brexit 'cliff edge'

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As European politicians from Rome to The Hague vent frustration with the British government's preparations for Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May may have a friend in the block's biggest ex-communist nation.

"People don't want a cliff-edge; they want to know with some certainty how things are going to go", she said.

"A transitional deal will fuel more uncertainty and leave Britain in limbo."Keen to make sure her government stays on message, May has silenced her ministers, some of whom have given the strongest hints yet that she is not ruling out a form of transitional agreement with the EU".

Westminster sources said Mrs May had raised the issue of reciprocal rights for Britons overseas and European Union nationals in this country in her talks with other leaders in recent months.

In an apparent rejection of calls for a "quickie divorce", Mrs May told business leaders the process of leaving the European Union would "take time".

In the article Verhofstadt linked to, an interviewer asked Davis what he thought about the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.

Drechsler said business leaders understand the need for discretion but just want more clues as to May's intentions.

Theresa May is to reach out to business leaders by pledging an extra £2bn a year in funding for scientific research and development by 2020.

"It would be a great loss for the European Union if it got cut off from the United Kingdom economy and the ties of good, open cooperation between the two were severed", he said in the interview conducted last week.

Senior figures in the European Parliament warned Britain on Tuesday that it can not "cherry pick" from members of the European Union, after Brexit minister David Davis met senior EU negotiators for talks on Britain's forthcoming exit from the bloc.

MPs are only likely to be given a say on triggering Article 50 if the Government loses its Supreme Court challenge on whether the Prime Minister alone has the authority to fire the starting gun on the Brexit process.

Officials have stressed the visit is not an attempt to open formal Brexit negotiations, but "will build on the cross-government work already done to prepare" for the process.

In comments widely interpreted as referring to a possible transitional arrangement with Brussels, Mrs May told business leaders in London on Monday: "We don't want a cliff-edge".

And even if our legal obligations are clear and in place there would also be real, practical implications.

Axelle Lemaire, a junior minister in the French Economy Ministry, said it was striking to hear May encouraging technology investment at the same time as considering tighter immigration controls.

"For if we support free markets, value capitalism and back business - and we do - we must do everything we can to keep faith with them".