Tuesday, June 25

Theresa May emergency flies to Brussels to rescue Brexit



Theresa May will travel to Brussels for talks with European Union leaders amid reports that she has personally urged Angela Merkel to end the Brexit stand-off.

The meeting on Monday comes days after Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator said talks about Britain leaving the EU in March 2019 were deadlocked.

Mrs May is taking Oliver Robbins, the civil servant leading the Brexit talks, with her for the dinner the first since a frosty meal in Downing Street in April. Mr Juncker was reported to have launched a scathing attack on Mrs May during the April dinner, saying that Brexit cannot be a success.

Downing Street sources insisted Monday’s meeting had “been in the diary for weeks” but the announcement caused surprise in Westminster, and comes after last week’s negotiations ended with little movement.

Mr Barnier said after the fifth round of discussions had ended without making any “great steps forward” and there was “disturbing deadlock” over the size of Britain’s divorce bill.

The visit comes a day after Mrs May phoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to urge her to help end the Brexit stand-off at this week’s EU summit in Brussels.

France and Germany are understood to have pushed for changes to a draft paper prepared for Thursday’s summit to avoid giving the impression that the EU will agree guidelines on a transition period as soon as “sufficient progress” has been made in issues relating to the exit.

Number 10 is very keen to open the next stage of talks about Britain’s relationship with the EU after Brexit.

One colleague of Mrs May told the Financial Times: We’ve almost run out of things to talk about. It comes down to money: by discussing the transition deal at the same time, you create a broader framework for talking about the money.

Commenting on the phone conversation with Mrs Merkel, a spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: They looked ahead to next week’s Council, agreeing on the importance of continued constructive progress in the UK’s exit negotiations.

The news came amid concern a no-deal Brexit could place added strain of up to £500 million a year on the NHS, health bosses have warned.

A report backed by the NHS Confederation suggests that tens of thousands of British pensioners living in Europe could be forced to return home if the Government is unable to strike a deal with the EU to continue existing healthcare arrangements.