THERESA May’s last ditch talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel got off to an awkward start today after no one showed up to greet the PM.
May dashed to Europe today to plead with Macron and Merkel to let Britain stay in the EU for even longer.
Theresa May arrives in Berlin – but there was no one to greet her[/caption]
She was forced to walk in alone as Merkel was nowhere to be seen at first[/caption]
German officials had provided a red carpet and military guard for May ahead of her meeting.
However Merkel was nowhere to be seen as the prime minister’s car pulled up at the chancellery in Berlin.
The PM was then forced to walk in on her own.
But suggestion the move was deliberate was tempered after the two leaders were then taken back outside to pose for photographers.
The PM jetted to meet the kingmakers in Berlin and Paris ahead of a crunch summit tomorrow to secure another Brexit delay.
As the PM embarked on another day of marathon talks:
- Liam Fox stabbed her in the back by calling on her to rule out a customs union
- Rumours swirled that the PM could offer Labour a vote on a second referendum to get their support for her deal
- MPs officially voted to delay Brexit until June 30 and avoid a No Deal
- Commons leader Andrea Leadsom again demanded that the EU re-open the Brexit deal and fix the backstop
- The DUP slammed Mrs May’s handling of Brexit talks in a furious attack
European leaders are set to tell Mrs May that Britain must sign up to a long extension of up to a year or we have to leave without a deal on Friday.
And they will say the UK can’t have any input in the EU budget or any trade talks as the price of a delay.
The arrangement – dubbed a “stop Boris” clause because it would tie the hands of a future Brexiteer PM – would prevent the UK from having a say on major European decisions for the duration of any extension.
Mrs May’s spokesman insisted today: “The UK has co-operated fully throughout this process, you can expect the UK to continue to do so.
“While we remain a member of the EU we plan to play our full part.”
The delay is expected to contain a break clause meaning Britain CAN quit the bloc as soon as the Commons signs off on a Brexit deal.
The PM enjoyed a “working lunch” with Mrs Merkel in Berlin where she pressed the case for any delay to end on June 30 – and warned of the dangers of a No Deal scenario.
She then continued to Paris for a meeting with Emmanuel Macron.
DUP bosses slammed Mrs May for “begging” and mocked her pleas for help.
Party leader Arlene Foster told UTV: “It really is quite painful to watch the Prime Minister at the moment going out to Brussels, it’s quit humiliating to watch it actually.
“What we want to see is strong leadership – but instead we have a Prime Minister who’s going out basically to beg the European Union for an extension even though everything should have been completed by now.
“Unfortunately we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t believe that the backstop can be dealt with and therefore when she goes to Europe she’s not asking for what should be asked for.”
Mrs Leadsom told Sky this morning: “What I think would be fantastic is if Angela Merkel would try to support a proper UK Brexit by agreeing to reopen the withdrawal agreement.
“There have been rumours over the weekend that some senior members of the German government would be willing to do that in order to get Theresa May’s deal over the line.”
Just minutes later Michel Barnier said it just wouldn’t happen, and any Brexit delay has to have a purpose.
Britain can either vote to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether or back the current deal, he stressed.
And if Britain wants to amend the future deal to include a customs union that could be done “in hours or days”.
An EU official insisted they wouldn’t be reopening the deal – even if there’s a new PM on the cards in the coming months.
What I think would be fantastic is if Angela Merkel would try to support a proper UK Brexit
One said: “If there is a wild Brexiter as a new Tory PM, they would be able to do nothing until after March 31, 2020, unless they subscribe to the withdrawal agreement.
“We will simply not hold talks. If a new British leader refuses these terms it will simply be ‘no deal’ on the date with plenty of time for us to prepare.”
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that agreement to another delay “hinges . . . on assurances from UK on sincere co-operation”.
Furious French officials said they could even veto the request unless Britain comes with a clear plan.
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said that EU leaders would want “as much clarity as possible” at Wednesday’s summit on what the UK plans to do next – but admitted that her recent talks with Jeremy Corbyn were “serious”.
Before tomorrow’s emergency European Council summit, leaders of the countries most affected by Brexit including France, Germany and Denmark will have a pre-meeting hosted by Belgium’s PM to agree a joint position.
Today talks between the Government and Labour have continued as both sides try to thrash out a cross-party deal.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said this morning it was “too early to tell” whether an agreement could be struck.
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Chancellor Philip Hammond and his shadow John McDonnell are both attending the talks today.
But Jeremy Corbyn said last night that the PM has still not “moved off her red lines so we can reach a compromise”. He wants to go for a softer Brexit like a customs union.
Furious Tories say they will never accept such a deal and it wouldn’t really deliver Brexit.