Brexit news: Theresa May facing stinging EU reception led by Macron | Politics | News



Mrs May will update her fellow European leaders on Britain’s departure from the EU with European Council President Donald Tusk in agreement that the Prime Minister should bring her counterparts up to speed at the Council’s June summit.

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While a discussion is not expected between the EU28 leaders on Brexit, the Prime Minister could be subject to a number of demands for further clarity on how the future relationship will shape up between the bloc and Britain, understands.

A senior Council official says the presentation is solely “in Mrs May’s hands”, however, in order to adhere to the October deadline for competition of the withdrawal agreement the Prime Minister will have to be “quite explicit on the future”.

Draft conclusions published ahead of the meeting in the Belgian capital stressed the importance of an “intensified” effort to conclude the withdrawal agreement.

The EU’s leaders are also set to offer Mrs May the opportunity of a new terms from Brussels if she softens her own red lines going forward in a so-called “evolution clause”.

One EU diplomat described this as a willingness by Brussels to open up their own negotiation stance but only when Britain can put a concrete offer on the table, which has been lacking in discussions up to now.

They said: “I don’t know what to expect but some of the red lines make it difficult to come to a trading relationship as close as possible.”

For Mrs May’s White Paper to be deemed “credible” by Brussels, the source hinted it would have to be “something that is as close as possible to the current arrangement”, adding: “Other options are credible, but not nice.”

But perhaps the most stinging rebuking came from a senior French government source, who said Mr Macron could dish out a “serious and grave” rebuke if the Prime Minister fails to progress Brexit negotiations in the coming weeks.

The French President is said to be ready and waiting to start going public with his criticisms of how Britain is handling the talks.

Other EU diplomats have been keen to reinforce the Council’s Article 50 conclusions, which will be agreed by the remaining 27 leaders on Friday evening.

Collectively, the bloc believes their stance as “tough, very clear and very sharp” when it comes to delivering an outlook on how negotiations are progressing.

One diplomat even hinted Britain had forgotten the so-called transition is a “done deal”, because the agreed terms are interlinked and part of the final withdrawal deal.

Brussels have slowly been spreading warnings about the possibility of a no deal scenario, telling member states to brace for every possibility.

In a visit to the Irish Parliament, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said no deal is “neither a desired or likely one”.

He added: “With pragmatism comes realism. As the clock ticks down we must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal.

“This is neither a desired or a likely outcome but it is not an impossible one and we are getting ready just in case. We will use all the tools at our disposal.”


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