Prime Minister Theresa May wants Britain to be involved in European Union decision making and strategy meetings right up until Brexit.
The prime minister made the point at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels this week. May told the press: “We will continue to play a full role until we leave and we will be a strong and dependable partner after we’ve left. It’s in the interests of both the UK and the EU that we continue to work closely together including at this summit.
“We must show that robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression. The UK has put Russian actions in Syria on the agenda for this summit. We must continue to work together, it’s vital we continue to work together, to put pressure on Russia to stop its appalling atrocities, its sickening atrocities, in Syria.”
But May’s calls for Britain to remain an integral part of the EU until it begins Brexit are meeting with an icy response. France is reportedly heaping pressure on Britain to trigger Article 50, which begins the Brexit process, as soon as possible and the BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler says there has been: “a distinct hardening of attitudes – even amongst Britain’s closest EU allies, like Germany.”
Sources close to the prime minister were forced to deny to the BBC that May’s insistence on Britain remaining at the EU’s top table until Brexit was the subject of a row at a dinner of the 28 EU leaders on Thursday night. That suggests that other sources at the dinner were briefing journalists that there were tensions.
The summit’s organisers are also sending dismissive signals to Britain. European Council President Donald Tusk refused to allow Britain’s future relationship with the EU to be part of the two day summit’s agenda, consistent with the EU’s position that there can be no negotiations until after Article 50 is triggered.
He did allow May to give fellow EU leaders an update on the current state of Britain but, according to the Guardian, only after dinner over coffee last night — the proverbial graveyard shift.
An unnamed European diplomat also told the Telegraph that May would have to work hard during her speech to show she was serious about maintaining good relations with the EU. The diplomat told the paper: “There really is very little trust, and very little good will towards the Brits — she needs to convince everyone that the British agenda is not just to pull the whole EU down, because that is what it looks like to many of us”
Tusk has previously said that there should be no distinction between “hard” and “soft” Brexit as the EU will ensure that Britain’s exit from the Union is “hard.”
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