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Theresa May 'looking to bypass Juncker and Barnier' with direct appeal to EU leaders

Theresa May 'looking to bypass Juncker and Barnier' with direct appeal to EU leaders

John Ashmore

2 min read

Theresa May is reportedly preparing to bypass the European Commission's top officials and plead directly with European leaders to start trade talks with the UK. 

The UK and Brussels are at odds over the negotiating timetable, with Mrs May's team wanting to discuss the UK's exit terms in parallel with a new trade deal, while EU officials insist there must be "sufficient progress" on key areas such as the Irish border and citizens' rights before any trade talks begin.

The Commission's president, Jean-Claude Juncker, yesterday gave a cool response to the recent flurry of position papers from the British side, saying that none were "actually satisfactory".

There is also consternation within the EU over the failure of the UK to say how much it is willing to pay as a 'divorce bill' for leaving the bloc. 

The legal grounds for calculating the divorce bill will be among the issues discussed as the third round of talks begin in Brussels this morning.

A Whitehall source told the Times that individual member states had a more sympathetic view of the British position. 

“Mr Juncker says it’s ‘crystal clear’ that we can’t talk about the future relationship before solving divorce issues, but this is a decision to be taken by the EU 27, not the commission,” the source said.

“Some heads of state say it’s ‘common sense’ to have a discussion about both.”

The paper suggests the Prime Minister will use an upcoming European Council meeting in October to lobby fellow leaders to speed up the negotiations.

While Brexit Secretary David Davis has said he hopes trade talks can begin in the autumn, reports suggest they could be put back until as late as December.


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