Brexit: Angela Merkel says she is still 'curious' about what the UK actually wants

German Chancellor was speaking after talks with Theresa May

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Friday 16 February 2018 17:40
Angela Merkel: EU wants a 'constructive and close' relationship with the UK

Angela Merkel has said she is still “curious” about what the UK’s goals from Brexit are, despite holding talks with Theresa May on Friday.

The German Chancellor was speaking at a joint press conference in Berlin with the Prime Minister after bilateral discussions about Britain’s departure from the EU.

During an exchange with journalists Ms Merkel said the German position on Brexit had not changed, adding: “We deplore it.’’

She denied she was “frustrated” with the process, but said: “We very much look forward to Britain again setting out its ideas.

“We would like to initiate those negotiations because we are under a certain amount of time pressure, but we also want be very diligent and very careful in working on this which means we will have frequent exchanges of views.”

Speaking at the same presentation, Ms May said she would be “saying something in the coming weeks” about the kind of future economic partnership the UK wanted with the EU, but insisted “it isn’t just a one-way street”.

The Prime Minister said a new round of discussions between the EU and UK would start on Monday of next week.

The new round comes after Sabine Weyand, the European Commission’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator, warned that, though British civil servants were “very competent negotiating partners”, they lacked a “clear political direction” from London.

“That’s because the political discussion in the UK isn’t over,” she added.

Ms Merkel and Ms Weyand are the latest figures to add their name to the list of Europeans who say they are not clear about what Britain wants.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar earlier this week called for “clarity and urgency” from the UK, insisting that his administration “still don’t know what the British Government wants Brexit to mean”.

European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier also said last week it was time for the UK to “make a choice”.

The British public also echoed the concerns in a poll by BMG for The Independent released on Sunday. Nearly three-quarters of people (74 per cent) said Ms May’s plans for Brexit were unclear, compared with just 17 per cent who said they were clear. A further 9 per cent said they did not know whether the plans were clear or unclear.

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