It WON'T work! EU tells Britain to drop its 'divide and conquer' approach to Brexit talks

Posted on Sep 28 2017 - 1:34am by admin

Senior eurocrats insisted the UK’s attempts to open up cracks in the bloc’s negotiation position will not work because all 27 member states are steadfastly behind it. 

Theresa May and her ministers have been on a major meet and greet blitz over the past two weeks, with Boris Johnson, David Davis and Philip Hammond all pressing the flesh with EU counterparts. 

The PM herself has met the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and EU Council president Donald Tusk this week as Britain tries to move the divorce talks away from technicalities and onto trade. 

She is also planning to use an informal meeting of the 28 heads of state in Tallinn, Estonia, on Friday to hold a number of bi-lateral meetings about Brexit with her fellow heads of Government. 

It is understood Mrs May will keep discussion on Britain’s exit from the bloc strictly to the sidelines of the event and not include it in the main debate, which is about the future direction of the project. 

Earlier this month Mr Hammond welcomed Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to London, whilst Mr Davis today met Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelson and is this evening scheduled to hold talks with EU Parliament chief Antonio Tajani.

The Brexit secretary has also taken in meetings with Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders and Belgian deputy PM Didier Reynders in a packed two-day round of diplomacy before heading back to Brussels for the conclusion of this round of divorce talks tomorrow. 

Mr Johnson, meanwhile, is on a whistle stop tour of three Eastern European states – the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia – to drum up Brexit support and emphasise the strength of the UK’s commitment to NATO. 

On top of that, International trade secretary Mr Fox was in Brussels this week for an intriguingly timed meeting with his EU counterpart, commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

However, despite these efforts the UK side has faced an uphill battle with Mr Tusk insisting there was not yet “sufficient progress” on the separation issues and EU ministers sticking to the mandate they handed Michel Barnier. 

One EU source told the Standard there was “resounding support” in all 27 capitals for the Frenchman to be the only official point of contact on Brexit.

On the status of the talks, which resumed for a fourth round on Monday, the diplomat added: “The British are trying. That’s all very well — there are just no solid proposals.”

It had been hoped that significant progress could be made in light of Mrs May’s speech in Florence, in which she made significant concessions on the Brexit bill and the terms of a transition. 

EU chiefs, including Mr Barnier, welcomed the constructive tone of the address but insisted more work needed to be done before the member states can sign off on the divorce and start discussing a future partnership. 

After his meeting with Mr Davis today, Copenhagen’s foreign affairs chief Mr Samuelsen said: “The British announcements fit will with both the government’s and EU27’s approach, where we have from the beginning expressed a desire for a close relationship with the UK after Brexit. 

“I’m cautiously positive in regards to that things might start to move. The fourth round of the negotiations are ongoing now in Brussels and I hope it will be marked by clear and concrete announcements at the table.” 

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