Brexit talks to be delayed by 'important intervention' by Theresa May, claims EU chief
The next round of Brexit negotiations will be delayed by an "important intervention" by Theresa May, a senior EU official has predicted.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's chief negotiator, made the bombshell claim while giving evidence to a Brussels committee.
He said Mrs May would make the intervention on 21 September and cause the scheduled talks to be pushed back by a week.
A senior EU source told PoliticsHome: "Rumours here [are] that she is planning a major speech on or around the 21st. If so – the talks could be delayed by a few days."
Earlier, Downing Street had said Mrs May wanted the negotiations to be "intensified" in a bid to break the deadlock of its so-called 'divorce bill',
A spokeswoman said: "We're ready to intensify negotiations. Nothing has been formally agreed, but that is something we can discuss. Typically in negotiations as time goes on you'll see the pace pick up, but certainly we wouldn't rule that out."
However, she dismissed suggestions that the Brexit deadline of 30 March, 2019, could be extended if the impasse continues.
"The deadline is there and it's right," she said. "I don't recognise at all this idea that we would look to extend it. Britian voted to leave, we triggered Article 50 and we'll be leaving the European Union in 2019."
It was reported last week that Mrs May was preparing to hold talks directly with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in a bid to kick-start the Brexit negotiations.
A Downing Street source said: "Building on the papers that the UK has published over the summer, yes, you can expect the PM to want to set out what we think this means about the relationship with the EU we are seeking.
"But no firm date or venue has yet been set for a speech, and as the PM’s spokesman set out today, we are keen to press on with negotiations. We think this is in everyone’s interests."
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