Brexit will 'strengthen' ties with Poland, Theresa May claims

The Prime Minister will meet her Polish counterpart at No.10, as she attempts to build alliances for talks on Britain’s EU exit.

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 28 November 2016 01:10
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Theresa May
Theresa May

Brexit will “strengthen” Britain’s relationship with Poland, Theresa May claims today ahead of a Downing Street summit.

The Prime Minister will meet Beata Szydlo, her Polish counterpart, as she attempts to build alliances ahead of the start of negotiations on Britain’s EU exit.

The two leaders will hold talks over a working lunch while senior ministers – including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Chancellor Philip Hammond – will meet at Lancaster House.

Further details of a planned deployment of 150 British troops to Poland will be discussed as part of the Nato measures to provide support for the country amid concerns about Russian military activities.

Soldiers from the Light Dragoons regiment in Catterick, as well as a number of armoured vehicles, will be stationed in north-east Poland, close to the border with the Russian enclave Kaliningrad, in April 2017.

The leaders and their ministers will then come together for formal talks at Number 10 on issues ranging from trade and scientific cooperation to Moscow's actions in Ukraine and Syria.

Ahead of the summit, Ms May stressed how Britain would “never forget the Polish pilots who braved the skies alongside us during World War Two”.

She said: “Our ties with Poland are rooted deeply in our shared history.

"I am determined that Brexit will not weaken our relationship with Poland, rather it will serve as a catalyst to strengthen it. That's why I am hosting the first-ever summit of this kind between our countries today.

“It marks the start of a new chapter in our relations and we will work even more closely together to ensure the security and prosperity of our nations in the years ahead.”

Polish woman booed on BBC question time for saying Brexit makes her feel unwelcome

Britain and Poland shared “a clear commitment to take our cooperation to the next level and to firmly establish the UK and Poland as resolute and strategic allies in Europe”.

The Prime Minister has vowed to trigger Article 50, the legal process for Brexit, by the end of March.

Formal negotiations on the UK's divorce settlement with Brussels cannot begin until that time, but the Prime Minister is keen to hold informal talks with European leaders to gauge their views.

Warsaw has raised concerns about the treatment of Poles in Britain following the Brexit vote, with a rise in incidents of alleged hate crimes including the killing of Arkadiusz Jozwik in Harlow, Essex.

As part of the effort to strengthen ties, the two prime ministers will jointly host a reception in Downing Street to pay tribute to the contribution made by Poles in the UK.

Addressing around 50 members of the Polish community, Ms May is expected to praise the role they play in sectors such as business, medicine, academia and the arts and reiterate her strong condemnation of the attacks against Poles.

She will also launch a British-Polish Civil Society Forum, which will meet for the first time in Warsaw next year. This annual event will bring together business leaders, communities, academics and journalists.

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