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Brexit: Angela Merkel warns Theresa May of Brexit time pressures

The PM has flown to the German capital in a bid to secure last-minute support for her new ‘third way’ customs plan

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Thursday 05 July 2018 16:24 BST
Angela Merkel receives Theresa May in Berlin
Angela Merkel receives Theresa May in Berlin (REUTERS)

Angela Merkel has warned Theresa May of the time pressures to secure a Brexit deal, as the two leaders meet in Berlin for discussions.

Ms May has flown to the German capital in a bid to secure last-minute support for her new “third way” customs plan for Brexit, ahead of the publication of the new policy later this month.

The PM’s cabinet, which is split over the policy, is expected to be asked to sign off the policy tomorrow at an away day dedicated to the issue. The UK has struggled to articulate a workable plan despite triggering Article 50 to start negotiations over a year ago.

Ms Merkel’s meeting with Ms May is a breakthrough of sorts for the PM because the UK has long complained privately of a lack of bilateral engagement with other EU member states – who have so far preferred to leave talks to the European Commission.

Ms Merkel told reporters ahead of the meeting: “Negotiations will now enter a crucial phase. You know that on behalf of the European Union the Commission is leading those negotiations with the United Kingdom.

“So there are a number of issues that we would like to discuss here also bilaterally, a number of substantive issues."

The German chancellor said her country was delighted that the English football team was still in the World Cup, noting that her national team was “out unfortunately” from the competition.

Theresa May told reporters: “Tomorrow I will be bringing my cabinet together to discuss and decide a substantial way forward which will enable the pace and intensity of the negotiations to increase.”

Earlier this week Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor who is chairing the Council of the EU during the crucial Brexit phase, said he would not allow the UK to divide the EU during talks.

At a recent European Council summit Ms May addressed a dinner of leaders for around 10 minutes, but there was no discussion. She did however hold a bilateral meeting with the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar.

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