Frosty reception for Mrs May in Brussels
Theresa May, UK Prime Minister arrived into a frosty reception in Brussels yesterday.
I say very firmly, [if] Ms May wants a hard Brexit, the negotiations will be hard
Mrs May had hoped to calm the waters with some of her European counterparts who were beginning to get very concerned with the language coming from the UK Government on a Hard Brexit.
But things got tougher in her first face-to-face meeting with Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Mr Schulz said :
I refuse to imagine a Europe where lorries and hedge funds are free to cross borders but citizens are not.
An overwhelming majority in the European Parliament expects you to stand firm when designing the EU’s future relationship with the UK.
The fundamental freedoms are inseparable, i.e. no freedom of movement for goods, capital and services, without free movement of persons.
The PM’s team briefed afterwards the meeting was “constructive” – the normal translation of that phrase is “we couldn’t agree on anything”.
Mrs May retaliated warning that Britain would veto any decisions taken in it’s absence at the increasingly fashionable EU27 meetings, where the UK is not represented. She put it more diplomatically though :
I accept the 27 need to meet but I want the UK to play an active part, otherwise it will be hard to accept things you agreed.
One of Mrs May’s obstacles is that in the current climate, the EU is not prepared to cut the UK any slack. The days of being “pro-Europe” in Brussels and “anti-Europe” in the Daily Mail are well and truly over.
It also suggests that her decision (one of her first as Prime Minister) back on July 20th, NOT to take up the EU’s rotating presidency from July-December 2017, was a serious error. The timing would have allowed the Prime Minister the influence she is now so sorely lacking in Europe. Never mind, our loss is Estonia’s gain!