Facing MPs for the first time since winning the backing for the crucial second phase of EU departure negotiations, the Prime Minister is to say that her diplomatic achievement last Friday should dispel doubts about her ability to stay the course in the wrangle over the country’s future.
And will insist the Britain and the EU are now heading for “a partnership which can deliver prosperity and security for all our people, for generations to come.”
Mrs May is to make a Commons statement today following a hectic scramble last week to resolve a series of initial stumbling blocks in the Brexit negotiations culminating in her early-morning dash to Brussels to shake hands with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday.
Their agreement is expected to be rubber-stamped by an EU Council summit in the Belgian capital at the end of this week, allowing trade talks to commence early in the New Year.
Theresa May hails a ‘new sense of optimism’ as Brexit talks progress to trade
I have always been clear that this was never going to be an easy process
Mrs May will point out that her accord with Mr Juncker was achieved in the face of widespread scepticism.
“I know that some doubted we would reach this stage,” the Prime Minister is expected to tell MPs.
“I have always been clear that this was never going to be an easy process. It has required give and take for the UK and the EU to move forwards together. And that is what we have done.”
She will point out how she had consistently stuck to the principles she set out in two key speeches, in London and in Florence, at crucial staging posts in the negotiation process.
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And looking forward to the next stage, she is expected to say: “Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
“But there is, I believe, a new sense of optimism now in the talks and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week.
“In doing so we can move on to building the bold new economic and security relationships that can underpin the new deep and special partnership we all want to see – partnership between the European Union and a sovereign United Kingdom that has taken control of its borders, money and laws once again.”
She will say that she is continuing to seek “a partnership that is in the best interests of the whole United Kingdom”.
In a first warning shot ahead of the next round of talks, her chief Brexit lieutenant David Davis yesterday confirmed that Britain will refuse to pay a multi-billion EU exit bill unless a wide-ranging trade deal with Brussels is secured.
Mrs May insist Britain and the EU are heading a for a deep, long-lasting partnership
Mrs May’s accord with the commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker included a payment of between £35billion and £39billion to cover Britain’s outstanding financial obligations to Brussels.
But Mr Davis, the EU Exit Secretary, insisted the payment of the cash was “conditional on an outcome”.
He said: “It is conditional on getting an implementation period, conditional on a trade outcome.
“No deal means that we won’t be paying the money.”
His remarks, in an interview on the BBC1 Andrew Marr Show yesterday, were being seen last night as both as an opening salvo aimed at EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and a swipe at Chancellor Philip Hammond, who last week claimed the cash would be handed over whatever the outcome of negotiations.
Asked if Mr Hammond had been wrong at a Commons Treasury Committee hearing last week to suggest it was “inconceivable” that the UK would not pay the cash, Mr Davis said: “It has been made clear by No 10 already. So that’s not actually new.”
In yesterday’s interview Mr Davis also insisted the chances of Britain quitting the EU without a deal and having to trade with the bloc on the basis of World Trade Organisation tariff rules had been dramatically cut.
“The odds, as it were, against a WTO, or no deal outcome, have dropped dramatically,” he said.
And he sought to allay concerns among some Euro-sceptic Tories about a commitment for “full alignment” of regulations between Britain and the EU after Brexit contained in the small print of the agreement with Mr Juncker.
Mr Davis insisted the payment of the cash was ‘conditional on an outcome’
“We’ll meet the outcomes but not do it by just copying or doing what the European Union does,” Mr Davis said.
He said Britain wanted to achieve similar standards to the EU in the key areas of including agriculture, transport and water supplies but could achieve that through its own regulations rather than following Brussels.
“There will be areas where we’ll have similar outcomes. We’ll have different methods to achieve them.
“That is going to be true of a lot of product areas, a lot of manufacturing and so on and there will be areas where we want different outcomes and will use different methods,” Mr Davis said.