Mon, Oct 23, 2017 - Page 5 News List

EU Brexit official pushes May to pay up

AFP, LONDON

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt yesterday told British Prime Minister Theresa May to confront the Brexiteers in her Cabinet and offer greater concessions to the EU.

Verhofstadt told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that May should confront British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson and other Brexit cheerleaders and outline what sort of trade deal she wants, following last week’s summit in Brussels.

EU leaders on Friday threw May a lifeline in Brexit talks, agreeing at the summit to start preparations for the next stage of negotiations on post-Brexit trade and a transition deal.

European capitals are demanding detailed written commitments on the divorce bill from London before consenting to the start of trade talks, fearing that Britain’s departure in 2019 will blow a hole in the bloc’s budget.

Verhofstadt said May should call the bluff of the “increasingly desperate Brexiteers” and “outline, once and for all, what kind of future relationship the country wants with the European Union.”

“This may require Theresa May to face down Boris Johnson and others in her own party who refuse to accept the reality of the Brexit they campaigned for,” he said. “Brexiteers failed to outline the extent of UK liabilities in Europe. Nevertheless, what is clear is that it will not be the taxpayers of the European Union who pay Britain’s bar bill.”

May is expected today to update the British parliament on the summit outcome.

She was expected to reaffirm her commitment to the 3 million EU nationals living in Britain who make an “extraordinary contribution,” saying “we want them to stay” and to call on the other 27 EU states likewise to protect the rights of British expatriates.

“The negotiations are complicated and deeply technical but in the end they are about people — and I am determined that we will put people first,” she was to say, according to an extract appearing across yesterday newspapers.

Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis is due to travel to Paris for talks today, days after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested at the summit that London would need to ramp up its divorce payment offer to unlock trade negotiations.

Davis is due to have dinner with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party has said it will join forces with rebels from May’s governing Conservatives to try to force her into giving parliament a veto on the final Brexit deal.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, writing in the Sunday Times newspaper demanded lawmakers get the “final say on whether to approve the withdrawal agreement and how best to implement it.”

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