May confident of Brexit deal that works for UK and EU
Juncker and Barnier deplore lack of progress in negotiations which hampers further steps
6 October, 2017
British PM Theresa May announced last Wednesday in a marred by mishaps speech at the Tories party conference that she was confident of getting a deal that will work for both Britain and the EU, nevertheless, many from both sides of the Channel are finding the Brexit talks pace frustratingly slow, news wires reported. But she also told to delegates that the government was planning for every eventuality in the Brexit talks, including a no deal scenario, and said EU citizens living in Britain were welcome. “A deep and special partnership is our ambition and offer, and I look forward to that offer receiving a positive response,” said May, whose speech was interrupted by coughing fits and a prankster.
Despite gaffes, Tories rallied behind the PM and for now the question about her resignation is not on the table, party leaders said. According to Business Secretary Greg Clark, May showed “guts and grace” by continuing with her keynote conference speech despite interruptions. He added that there was huge warmth towards May in the conference hall. Home Secretary Amber Rudd also supported May by saying she was doing an “excellent job”. May's bid to reassert her dwindling authority was nearly ruined when her speech was interrupted by repeated coughing fits, a prankster, and even letters of her slogan falling off the set behind her. The PM's speech closed the Tory conference where she had faced repeated questions about her leadership and Brexit divisions within her party.
Meanwhile Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that Brexit talks have so far failed to make enough progress to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase, Speaking before an EP plenary session, they said that, despite four rounds of talks, there was a lack of progress on three key issues necessary to be solved before talks can proceed.
This will prevent the Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the whole EU, from recommending that EU leaders approve moving on to talks about Britain's future relationship with the bloc. “We have not yet made the sufficient progress needed,” Juncker said. “Until now, I can't say that we are ready to enter the second phase of the negotiations.” “There are still serious divergences - especially on the financial settlement,” Barnier added.
After the hearing, MEPs passed a resolution recommending that EU leaders postpone making a decision during their 19-20 October summit on the Brexit talks moving to next stage. They welcomed the clarifications and conciliatory tone of British PM Theresa May's recent speech in Florence, but added that there is a need to “convert goodwill into concrete plans.”
MEPs said they expect the UK government to table, without delay, specific proposals to safeguard the full set of rights that 4.5m EU and UK citizens currently enjoy, honour the UK's financial obligations to the EU in full, and resolve the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland border issue, in full compliance with the Good Friday Agreement. An additional condition for concluding the first phase of negotiations is a guarantee that EU law will be respected until the UK's official withdrawal from the EU.