Brexit: UK′s Theresa May should ′accept reality,′ says EU negotiator | News | DW | 22.10.2017
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European Union

Brexit: UK's Theresa May should 'accept reality,' says EU negotiator

The EU Parliament's Brexit negotiator has called on the British premier to outline the trade deal she wants after the UK leaves the EU. He said many Brexiteers have refused to accept the realities of the exit.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator, on Sunday called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to confront British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and other Brexit advocates in her party with the true consequences of Britain's departure from the European Union by outlining the future trade deal she would like with the bloc.

Read more: Angela Merkel has 'absolutely no doubts' about securing Brexit deal

May should call the bluff of the "increasingly desperate Brexiteers" and "outline, once and for all, what kind of future relationship the country wants with the European Union," Verhofstadt told the British The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"This may require Theresa May to face down Boris Johnson and others in her party who refuse to accept the reality of the Brexit they campaigned for," he said.

EU member states are calling for detailed and concrete commitments from Britain about how it sees its relationship with the bloc after Brexit before consenting to start trade talks. However, at a recent summit, leaders of the 27 states that will remain in the EU did agree to start preparing for the so-called Phase Two of Brexit negotiations, which will include the issues of trade and a transition deal.

Financial deadlock

The EU fears that Britain's planned departure in 2019 will badly impact on the bloc's budget and are demanding a large financial settlement.

However, May said the amount of that settlement can be agreed only after London and Brussels formulate an overall deal.

Read more: UK finance chief regrets calling EU 'the enemy'

"Brexiteers failed to outline the extent of UK liabilities in Europe. Nevertheless, what is clear is that it will not be the taxpayers of the European Union who pay Britain's bar bill," Verhofstadt said in the Mail on Sunday interview.

Figure combining David Davis, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Theresa May at an anti-Brexit protest in Manchester

The idea of Brexit is deeply unpopular with many Britons

'People first'

British Trade Secretary Liam Fox, meanwhile, took exception to comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron at the summit in which he accused Brexiteers of bluffing about a willingness to make a "no-deal" exit in order to soften the EU's stance.

Fox told broadcaster ITV that Macron was "completely wrong," adding that failure to come up with a deal would not be "exactly a nightmare scenario" for trade conducted under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. He, however, said that having a deal was the preferable option to him.

Read more: Brexit's side effects for life-saving medicines

May is expected to update the British Parliament on Monday about the results from the recent summit. According to comments carried by Sunday newspapers in the UK, she will say that the Brexit process must take into consideration the well-being both of the 3 million EU nationals living in Britain, and of British expats.

"The negotiations are complicated and deeply technical, but in the end they are about people — and I am determined that we will put people first," she was to tell parliament.

A timeline of Brexit

tj/ls (AFP, Reuters)