Theresa May refuses to comment on suggestions Brexit deal will take 10 years

The Prime Minister dodged the question at an EU summit

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 15 December 2016 17:18 GMT
Theresa May refuses to comment on suggestions Brexit deal will take 10 years

Theresa May had nothing to say about suggestions it will take 10 years to negotiate Brexit – refusing to confirm, deny, or even acknowledge questions about the latest revelation.

The Prime Minister was asked directly by reporters outside an EU summit in Brussels what she thought of the advice, reportedly given by Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s EU ambassador, to the Government.

However, the Prime Minister appeared oblivious to the question and gave an answer on a completely different topic – before making a rapid escape.

“What we’ll be discussing at this summit is how we work together to deal with the serious challenges we face,” she said in response to the question about the 10-year deal.

“We’ll be discussing migration. I’ve always said from outset on migration that Europe needs to do more to tackle the root causes. That means disrupting the smuggling networks, it means deterring more people from taking the journey in the first place and returning those who have no right to be here.

“We also need to condemn what’s happening in Syria. President Assad and his backers in Russia and Iran bear responsibility for the tragedy in Aleppo. What we must be doing is ensuring that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held to account.

“We must also do all we can to ensure a ceasefire is secured so the United Nations can help bring to safety the innocent people of Aleppo. Finally, I welcome the fact that the other leaders will be meeting to discuss Brexit tonight.

“As we are going to invoke article 50, trigger the negotiations by the end of March next year, it’s right that the other leaders prepare for those negotiations as we have been preparing. We will be leaving the EU, we want that to be as smooth an orderly a process as possible.

Reporters shouted behind Ms May: “What about it taking ten years to get a deal” – however the Prime Minister swiftly walked away.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee warned this morning that the Government was in danger of being “grossly negligent” by not planning for a collapse in talks with the European Union.

Under the timetable agreed by Theresa May and set out in the EU’s Article 50 the Government must concluded Brexit negotiations within two years of triggering the Treaty clause, or trade will revert to World Trade Organisation rules.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who chairs the committee, said Theresa May’s administration seemed to be repeating the mistakes of David Cameron’s government, which repeatedly refuse to plan for the possibility of Brexit.

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