Theresa May to be given chance 'to sell Brexit plan directly to EU countries' in crunch meeting

Posted On: 
26th July 2018

Theresa May will be given the opportunity to outline her Brexit plans directly to EU leaders in a bid to reboot talks on Britain’s exit terms, it has been reported.

Theresa May will be given the chance to hold talks directly with leaders
PA Images

The Prime Minister is set to meet leaders of the other 27 EU countires in Salzburg in September in an attempt to avert a no deal outcome.

The Times reports that the proposal emerged after the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is concerned that unless EU leaders intervene directly the Commission will kill off the UK's White Paper proposals.

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The paper reports that the Commission has already ruled out Mrs May’s plan to effectively keep the UK in the single market for goods – as there “cannot be give and take” on the EU’s four freedoms.

Similarly the facilitated customs arrangement plan, where Britain would collect tariffs on behalf of Brussels, was rejected as unworkable.

The stalemate comes despite the need for a draft withdrawal agreement by the autumn, which must include a viable “backstop” arrangement to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

The paper says European Council president Donald Tusk will decide by the end of August whether the informal Austrian gathering on September 20 will be used to try and save talks.

The move would mark a significant change in strategy, given negotiations have so far been held bilaterally through the UK and Michel Barnier.

A diplomatic source told The Times that Ms Merkel, felt “a sense of drift” surrounding Brexit talks and that there needed to be “a serious discussion in the European Council”.

Another added: “There is potential to have talks between all 28 EU leaders.”

Whitehall sources said that Mrs May had “evolved”, or softened, her position in the white paper in a bid to reach agreement, and would call on the EU to do the same.

“It is time for the EU side to show some creativity too,” one said.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is due to meet Mr Barnier today for a second round of talks, having initially held discussions with the European Commission’s chief negotiator last week.

It comes just days after Mrs May revealed she would lead negotiations on Brexit, while the Department for Exiting the European Union would be relegated to overseeing the domestic preparations for leaving.