Brexit: Guy Verhofstadt visits London to tell Theresa May she must produce 'credible proposals'

Northern Ireland and citizens' rights on the agenda

Jon Stone
Brussels
Monday 05 March 2018 18:25
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The European Parliament’s Brexit chief will come to London on Monday to warn Theresa May she must move beyond “vague aspirations” and outline “credible proposals” for Brexit that solve the Irish border and citizens’ rights issues.

Guy Verhofstadt will meet with the Prime Minister at Downing Street, where he will also hold talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and Cabinet Office minister David Lidingdon.

Mr Verhofstadt, whose visit follows one by Michel Barnier last month, will also be briefed in-depth by UK officials about plans for citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland border.

In a meeting with the Home Secretary he is also expected to raise the issue of Home Office failures and errors which have plagued EU nationals worried about their future in the UK.

Speaking ahead of the visit the liberal politician said that the PM’s “re-confirmation of our December agreement on the Irish border is reassuring” and that “we need now credible proposals detailing how the UK seeks to achieve this in practice”.

He added that the meeting would be a good opportunity “to discuss this further with the Prime Minister”.

Though the European Parliament is not usually directly involved with negotiations with the UK, the body has a final veto on any deal and the Commission liaises closes with MEPs to make sure any deal they strike would get through.

Talks resumed this week after the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech in London in which she issued a warning to the EU that refusing to include financial services in a trade deal after Brexit would “hurt” its own economies, but admitted for the first time that the UK would lose some trade access to its biggest market.

But on key issues the Prime Minister appeared to dig in her heels, reiterating her suggestion of a technological solution to the Irish border issue and defending “cherry picking” parts of the single market for the UK to remain in.

The European Commission, which is in charge of day-to-day negotiations with Britain, offered little comment on the speech but said its content would inform the European Council guidelines on the trade negotiations – which are due this week

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