- Theresa May to tell EU leaders that the “ball is in your court” on Brexit.
- Prime Minister will insist that Britain has made its position clear and the EU must give ground.
- The EU Parliament voted last week to block Brexit talks from moving onto discussions about Britain’s future relationship.
- EU must decide this month whether “sufficient progress” has been made on talks about Brexit divorce proceedings.
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May will today tell European leaders that Britain will make no more concessions in Brexit negotiations until the EU allows talks on future trade relations and transition to commence.
May will use a speech in the House of Commons this afternoon to tell the leaders of other EU member states that “the ball is in your court,” The Times newspaper reports.
The prime minister’s latest comments on Brexit will come as British negotiators led by Brexit Secretary David Davis prepare to head back to Brussels for the latest round of negotiations with their EU counterparts.
May is also set to warn the EU about the risks of negotiations breaking down and Britain walking away with no deal. Both sides must be constructive in order to “prove the doomsayers wrong,” the PM will say.
The EU has repeatedly insisted that both sides must first make “sufficient progress” on citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and Britain’s financial obligations before talks on future trade arrangements can be discussed.
Last week the EU Parliament voted to say that “sufficient progress” had not been made. Earlier this month, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Bernier, said it could take “months” until Brexit talks move onto trade.
May fighting back
The prime minister’s warning will be seen by Brussels as an attempt to bypass the EU Commission and appeal to EU member states directly in order to speed up Brexit negotiations. Britain has recently been warned against this strategy. An EU ambassador said last month that the “divide and rule” tactic will not work as EU “unity is very solid.”
However, with approximately 12 months left until any Brexit deal is set to be sent off to the EU Parliament for ratification, time is quickly running out on Britain to avoid a no-deal scenario, which most economic and political experts agree would be calamitous for the Britain’s economy and political stability.
It will also be seen as an attempt to re-establish her authority as the British leader ahead of Brexit talks reconvening.
May earlier this year warned EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that she’d be a “bloody difficult woman” to deal with in Brexit talks. However, the PM returns to Westminster with her leadership at an all-time low, thanks to a disastrous party conference speech and subsequent plot to oust her among a group of Tory MPs.
The PM has since dismissed speculation that she could step down from Number 10. “What the country needs is calm leadership, that is exactly what I am providing, with the full support of my Cabinet,” she told the BBC on Friday.
She told the Times that she will not “hide from the challenge” and refused to rule out demoting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whose recent interventions on Brexit and gaffe about Libya have put May under pressure to discipline him.
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