Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker say Brexit talks must be 'accelerated'

Posted On: 
16th October 2017

Brexit negotiations between the UK and European Union must be "accelerated" if the two sides are to strike a deal, Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker have said.

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker in Downing Street.
Credit: 
PA Images

The pair spoke out in a joint statement following a "constructive and friendly" working dinner in Brussels.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, and Brexit Secretary David Davis were also present at the 90-minute talks ahead of a crunch summit later this week.

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Mr Barnier warned last week that the negotiations had reached a "very disturbing" deadlock over the UK's refusal to put a figure on how much it is willing to pay as a Brexit divorce bill.

Mrs May today stepped up her efforts to end the impasse, holding talks with French president Emmanuel Macron and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to discuss the state of play.

In their statement, Mrs May and European Commission president Mr Juncker said they had "a broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges".

They discussed how best to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, and how to fight Islamist terrorism, but the bulk of the discussions were about Brexit.

"As regards the Article 50 negotiations, both sides agreed that these issues are being discussed in the framework agreed between the EU27 and the United Kingdom, as set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union," the statement said.

"The Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come. The working dinner took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere."

However, the statement gave no indication of any breakthrough in the talks, with Downing Street stressing earlier that Mrs May would not be making any fresh offer on the UK's Brexit divorce bill.

Boris Johnson has said it time to "get on" with EU trade talks.

Speaking in Luxembourg, the Foreign Secretary said: "We think in the U.K. that is it time to get on with these negotiations. It is ready for the great ship to go down the shipway and on the open sea, for us to start some serious conversations about the future and the new relationship … and I think we will work very much in the interests of both sides."