The mood was “very bad” as the bloc’s heads of state argued about Brexit during the Brussels summit, the German outlet Welt reports, citing sources in EU circles. The newspaper claims that German Chancellor Angela Merkel interrupted her UK counterpart, Prime Minister Theresa May, several times during her speech and insisted that she clarify her position.
The German website Focus reported that Merkel had refused to accept May’s proposal to set a specific deadline for striking a free-trade agreement that could resolve the Northern Ireland issue instead of a backstop date. The outlet cites the EU insiders as saying that the UK prime minister suggested it was December, 2021.
‘I recognise the strength of concern in the House of Commons and that is what I will be putting to colleagues today,’ May said in reference to her unpopular EU withdrawal deal.
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Yesterday’s EU Council summit approved the withdrawal agreement and political declaration, and the Prime Minister will return to the Commons this afternoon to provide an update. Before that, cabinet members will get their own briefing on how to sell the deal in media appearances. They have just over two weeks, as it would appear we now have a date for the big vote – Wednesday 12th December.
EU leaders have sent a clear message for Britain: this is the only deal you’re going to get. This is “the best possible deal”, Jean-Claude Juncker said. “I’m never changing my mind… If the House would say no, we would have no deal.” Of course, they would say that – they’re trying to help May sell it to MPs. Despite their best efforts, termed Project Fear 2.0 by Brexiteers, parliament still looks resolutely unconvinced. Even the most prudent list puts the number of Tory rebels at 88, while others have estimated 94.