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EU leaders take just 90 SECONDS to snub May as they refuse to move Brexit talks onto trade

EUROPEAN leaders today took just 90 seconds to snub Theresa May’s plea to move the Brexit talks onto trade by concluding that there has been no “sufficient progress” so far.

By NICK GUTTERIDGE, BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT

EU chiefs blitzed their previous record by signing off on draft conclusions, which do call for internal scoping on a new EU-UK partnership, in under two minutes according to officials.They made their decision just before Theresa May took to the podium in Brussels following a breakfast meeting with her fellow leaders and gloomily admitted: “I know we still have some way to go.”

The PM told Brussels: “If we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour. We must work together to get to an outcome that we can stand behind and that works for all our people.”

Last night the prime minister made a five minute pitch to the other 27 leaders over coffee, in which EU officials said she simply reiterated the main points from her Florence speech.

UK prime minister Theresa MayEbS

UK prime minister Theresa May


Sources said Mrs May’s talk was, as expected, greeted with silence by her fellow chiefs. This was so as not to undermine their position that Michel Barnier is the only point of negotiating contact with the UK.
It is also understood that EU leaders did not discuss the contents of her address afterwards, although all of them were positive about its tone when asked by journalists this morning.Maltese PM Joseph Muscat described it as Mrs May’s “best performance yet” in front of her fellow leaders whilst Irish Taioseach Leo Varadkar hailed the speech as a “very good contribution”.

Angela Merkel has fronted this newer, softer and more diplomatic approach by the bloc – shedding her hardline Brexit image and talking up the prospect of significant progress by December.

If we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour

Theresa May

However, despite Brussels’ seemingly coordinated barrage of warm words the PM’s plea that Brussels should move the talks onto trade this month have ultimately fallen on deaf ears.Speaking to journalists this morning, Mrs May said: “I am ambitious and positive for Britain’s future and these negotiations, but I know we still have some way to go.

“Both sides have approached these talks with professionalism and a constructive spirit and we should recognise what has been achieved to date. This Council is an important moment it is a point at which to assess and reflect on how to make further progress.

“I believe it is in the interests of the UK that the EU27 continues to take a united approach. But if we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour.”

In a pointed plea she told European capitals: “We must work together to get to an outcome that we can stand behind and that works for all our people.”The PM also said she was “confident that we are in touching distance of a deal” on citizens rights but stonewalled on questions about the Brexit bill, saying ministers are deconstructing the EU’s demand “line by line”.

British officials have raised questions in recent days about whether the EU side is stalling on the citizens’ rights issue because it does not want to close that chapter before the Brexit bill is settled.

The UK is holding out on making a concrete cash offer, seeing money as its biggest bargaining chip, though Mrs May has promised she will cover Britain’s commitments to the bloc’s budget up to 2020.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/868882/Brexit-news-EU-leaders-take-90-seconds-rule-out-UK-trade-talks

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