EU blasts Theresa May: Brexit is no ball game
The Prime Minister is set to warn European leaders that Britain will not make a single further concession until they move on to discussions about a future trade deal
Theresa May: Picture credit - Scott Heppell/PA
The EU today hit back at Theresa May as she prepared to declare “the ball is in their court” when it comes to unblocking the stalemate of Brexit negotiations.
Ahead of the fifth round of talks the Prime Minister is set to warn European leaders that Britain will not make a single further concession until they move on to discussions about a future trade deal.
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But the European Commission insisted “the ball is entirely in the UK court” and blasted British negotiators for failing to find a solution “on step one”.
Brussels has dictated that talks cannot move onto the future trading relationship or the nature of an interim arrangement until key factors of the UK exit have been hammered out.
Those include the so-called Brexit ‘divorce bill’ of UK liabilities, the nature of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and the status of EU nationals still living in Britain.
In her landmark speech in Florence last month, the Prime Minister refused to put a figure on the table for the divorce settlement but for the first time insisted she wanted a transitional deal.
In an update to the House of Commons today, she will add: "As we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.”
But at a press conference this morning, Commission spokesman Magritas Schinas said: “This is not exactly a ball game.”
He added: “There’s a clear sequencing of these talks and there’s been so far no solution found on step one.
“So the ball is entirely in the UK court for the rest to happen.”
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said today: "The [Florence] speech was intended to create momentum. We believe we are seeing that momentum, but let's see what will happen in the next round of talks."
The UK government will publish two white papers today on trade and customs, the spokesperson said would form part of "a series of Bills in relation to exiting the European Union".
Elsewhere, Brexit Secretary David Davis has come under fire after it emerged he would no travel to Brussels today to kick off the fifth round of talks with the EU.
Labour MP Peter Kyle - who supports the pro-EU Open Britain campaign - fumed: “Theresa May says the ball is in the EU’s court, yet David Davis can’t even be bothered to pick up his racket.”
He added: “David Davis needs to pull his socks up, get on the Eurostar, and negotiate for Britain rather than posture in London.”
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