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What is Theresa May's 'transition' to full Brexit?

Theresa May will deliver a speech Brexit speech in Florence. Credit: PA

A couple of points about Theresa May's request for a couple of years of "transition" to full Brexit after we leave the the EU on March 30 2019 - which she will make in Florence on Friday.

First, that transition term would involve continued membership of the single market, so we would still be subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice in that period - which not all Brexiteers would like.

But there will be an end to the current system of free movement of people, in that those arriving from the rest of the EU from April 2019 would have to register their presence here and would not have a right to stay forever.

So there is a question whether the rest of the EU would allow us to remain in the single market for a transition term on that basis - since we would be flouting one of the so-called four freedoms that underpin the single market.

Also just to be clear, the £20bn odd that May is prepared to pay as a divorce bill (though remember she won't mention that number tomorrow) is not seen as a fee by her for the transition but as a tariff for the entire Brexit package, including a permanent trade deal.

She is trying to negotiate an entire Brexit package, not individual elements. And she wants the rest of the EU to know they won't get a bean of divorce payments unless the whole package is agreed.

So although she will talk the language of European solidarity tomorrow, she wants to be seen - and will be seen - as still playing hardball.

As I said earlier on Thursday, crashing out without a deal remains a distinct possibility.