Morning briefing: May’s big Brexit speech / Europe braces for key polls / Billy Graham laid to rest

By Billy

Good morning, here’s your Friday morning briefing to set you up for the day ahead. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

All eyes on Theresa May as she makes her big Brexit speech

The UK’s prime minister Theresa May will make her long-awaited Brexit speech at around midday London time today.

She’s expected to call for the broadest and deepest possible trading relationship between the UK and the European Union after the country leaves the trading bloc in March 2019.

However, extracts released overnight gave no hint on how Britain plans to square the many circles required to get such a deal.

Yesterday European Council president Donald Tusk warned that “friction” in trade was “inevitable” after Brexit.

Brussels has already rejected May’s so-called three baskets approach — dividing the economy into three areas, each with differing levels of convergence with EU rules and standards.

Europe braces for key polls

Europe is readying itself for two important votes this weekend: the Italian general election and the result of the ballot of Germany’s SPD party membership on a proposed new grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Party leaders in Italy are wrapping up their campaigning today but it is still far from clear whether any group can achieve a workable majority.

Former Italian leader and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-right allies are seen doing well but narrow margins mean it could be late on Monday morning before a victor is revealed.

The SPD vote is no more certain at this stage, but at least the result should come out quickly — some time on Sunday morning.

Trump attends the funeral of America’s pastor, Billy Graham

US President Donald Trump will attend the funeral of Billy Graham, the Protestant preacher known as America’s pastor today.

Some 2,300 people are expected to attend the funeral at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Graham, who was 99 when he died at home last week, is said to have converted millions to Christianity. He evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed alongside US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

The service will be streamed live from around 6pm London time. You can watch it here.