May says to return to Brussels on Saturday in bid to seal Brexit deal

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May mentioned she can be returning to Brussels on Saturday to hammer out an overview of Britain’s future ties with the European Union after her assembly with the pinnacle of the bloc’s government on Wednesday did not bridge the gaps.

May met European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker for about an hour and a half to attempt to win commitments geared toward serving to her appease rebels at home against her draft Brexit treaty.

“There were some remaining issues which we have discussed,” May mentioned afterwards. “I will be returning on Saturday for further meetings, including again with President Juncker to discuss how we can ensure that we can conclude this process.”

With simply over 4 months earlier than Britain’s departure, May is attempting to finalise an overview of future relations earlier than a summit of EU leaders on Sunday as a result of endorse the Brexit accord.

Raising the stakes, EU diplomats mentioned they’d been informed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not prepared to come on Sunday for any extra talks, that means a textual content should be prepared beforehand.

Spain’s prime minister, in the meantime, insisted he would vote towards the draft deal except he wins assurances over the disputed peninsula of Gibraltar.

May mentioned negotiators from either side would proceed engaged on the textual content. “I believe we have been able to give sufficient direction for them to be able to resolve those remaining issues,” she mentioned.

A spokesman for the European Commission mentioned “very good progress” was made at May’s assembly with Juncker: “Work is continuing.”

Diplomats in Brussels mentioned EU states’ considerations over fishing rights and future commerce ties had largely been addressed within the political declaration on the EU-UK future ties that may type a package deal with the legally binding divorce deal, that means Spain’s considerations had been the ultimate problem to be settled.

“The only thing really outstanding is Gibraltar,” mentioned one EU diplomat.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demanded assurances that the way forward for the disputed British territory of Gibraltar can be settled via direct talks with Madrid.

“If this is not solved by Sunday, Spain, a pro-European government, will unfortunately have to vote ‘No’,” he mentioned at a night news conference in Valladolid along with his Portuguese counterpart.

Many in Brussels thought Sanchez was attempting to attain factors with voters at home earlier than a Dec. 2 native election within the southern Andalusia area. They mentioned the problem might be solved by the leaders and warned Madrid to not put the entire Brexit settlement in danger.

As an olive department to Brexit campaigners in Britain, May was looking for to incorporate their proposed technological options to maintain the border open on the island of Ireland. The EU has beforehand dismissed these concepts as unrealistic at this stage.

May’s finance minister, Philip Hammond, mentioned Britain’s parliament wanted to again her deal or danger both severely damaging the economic system or jeopardising Brexit altogether.

“A smooth exit from the European Union – doing this in an orderly fashion – is worth tens of billions of pounds to our economy,” he informed broadcaster ITV.

“If the deal is not approved by parliament, we will have a politically chaotic situation … In that chaos that would ensue, there may be no Brexit,” he added.


The British and European parliaments should ratify the tentative deal to finish greater than 40 years of partnership earlier than Brexit day on March 29, 2019, or Britain can be set to crash out of the EU with no treaty.

The publication final week of a draft exit treaty sparked the most important disaster of May’s premiership, with two cupboard ministers quitting and dozens of Conservative members of parliament calling on her to step down. They accuse May of constructing too many concessions to the EU, whereas others oppose Brexit altogether.

British Prime Minister Theresa May shakes fingers with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier than a gathering to debate draft agreements on Brexit, on the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

May hopes the blueprint on future relations — a political doc of about 20 pages meant to be agreed side-by-side with the legally binding 600-page exit treaty — will assist win again sufficient help at home for her strategy to go in parliament.

The Northern Ireland get together that props up May’s government mentioned it doesn’t plan to withdraw its help but regardless of opposition to her withdrawal deal.

“The confidence and supply agreement … is very much still in existence,” Democratic Unionist Party chief Arlene Foster informed the BBC broadcaster.

Asked when the get together may take into account pulling the plug on help for May, Foster mentioned: “We’re not there yet.”

Despite the political turmoil round her, May has proven no register public of any doubt that she will deliver home a deal.

The draft treaty envisages Britain staying in a customs union with the bloc, which many Brexit supporters see as a compromise too far.

The EU is attempting to discourage Britain from any renegotiation of the draft treaty, whereas additionally looking for to assuage considerations expressed by a few of the remaining 27 member states. While unanimity among the many 27 will not be legally required to endorse the deal now, the bloc seeks a unified stance.


Both sides have additionally been advancing contingency plans for the worst case state of affairs — a no-deal Brexit.

Diplomats in Brussels mentioned Britain was additionally looking for a straightforward circulation of products after Brexit, a place which was too near the privileges allowed just for nations that signal as much as EU single market guidelines, together with free circulation of individuals and providers.

“The UK wants free movement of goods, which they won’t get because that’s back to discussing partial access to the single market, which we don’t do,” one other diplomat mentioned.

Slideshow (four Images)

In addition, France has referred to as for extra ensures on future entry to Britain’s fishing waters, which London desires to maintain firmly below its management after Brexit.

Most within the EU are decided to get the deal over the road, with a 3rd EU diplomat saying: “There is plenty of negotiating time left to achieve that.”

Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Jan Strupczewski, Robin Emmott in Brussels and Ingrid Melander in Madrid, Editing by Richard Balmforth and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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