Theresa May faces a 'make or break' moment in Florence amid Brexit divisions in Cabinet

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks to the media outside number 10 Downing StreetPeter Nicholls/ Reuters

The Prime Minister will today brief her cabinet ahead of her "make or break" Brexit set-piece speech in Florence tomorrow (22 September) - as one political expert played down expectations of what May might promise.

Theresa May's address comes at a time where divisions in Westminster and at the negotiating table in Brussels have reached a crescendo.

It comes after the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson penned a 4,000 word article about the future of Brexit last week, in what was perceived as a way of undermining the prime minister.

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Johnson was forced to deny reports that he was planning on resigning and instead described the government as a "nest of singing birds".

Both he and the prime minister flew back to London from the UN General Assembly in New York overnight on Wednesday (20 September) ahead of a crunch cabinet meeting.

The meeting with her ministers and the speech in Italy will be watched closely, not only by her European counterparts but also those in the halls of Westminster too.

Ahead of the speech, much of the talk has been about the details over how much Britain will pay the EU during a transitional period and the subsequent exit as part of the 'divorce bill.' The prime minister is in the difficult position of needing to keep her cabinet colleagues onboard in order to remain as prime minister - as well as pushing on with the Brexit negotiations.

Professor Tim Bale, who teaches politics at London's Queen Mary University, told IBTimes UK that if Florence was a "make or break moment, it isn't the first and it won't be the last."

The problem that May faces is that momentum seems to swing in various directions from week to week as Professor Bale explained: "[The Florence speech] is less of an event and more of a process - one in which the advantage and the initiative seems to swing bewilderingly, wildly and often randomly between different members and factions of a hopelessly divided Cabinet. Even if Mrs May climbs off the fence today she'll be climbing back on it soon enough."

What currently remains unclear is what the prime minister may or may not announce in Florence.

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There are reports that she may confirm the intention to pay £20bn to cover gaps in the European budget up to 2020. Downing Street simply dismissed this as "speculation."

Theresa May has been known for her speeches that reveal very little, but also those which have startled their audiences.

ritish Prime Minister Theresa May (3rd L) holds the first Cabinet meeting of her new team at 10 Downing Street on June 12, 2017WPA Pool/Getty Images

Professor Bale said that "it was she who warned the Tories about being seen as the nasty party back in the early noughties and she took on the vested interest that is the police federation when Home Secretary. But these are the exceptions that prove the rule."

Expectations are high, but it could be that the prime minister reveals very little in what are uncertain times. Prof Bale added that the "betting would be that she doesn't make the big offer that everyone thought might be on the cards, but don't rule it out completely".

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When Parliament entered the summer recess, the Conservatives were bitterly divided, shellshocked after losing their majority in the House of Commons, the future of Theresa May and the best way to tackle Brexit.

The summer was a chance to have a break, take scope, and regroup, this has proved to be anything but the case. On this case, Professor Bale said that "the summer, it turns out, was just a lull in the in-fighting."

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