Manfred Weber optimistic after meeting with Theresa May

Parliament’s EPP group leader, Manfred Weber, has voiced renewed optimism about the eventual outcome of the ongoing Brexit talks after meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Manfred Weber visits 10 Downing Street | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

16 Nov 2017


The pair met at Downing Street in London on Wednesday.

Weber, a German MEP, has been particularly vocal in insisting that the UK must satisfy the EU’s demands over citizens’ rights, the Irish border issue and the divorce bill.  He has also accused the

UK government of failing to make sufficient progress in the negotiations.


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But, after his meeting with May, Weber, the leader of the European Parliament’s largest group, said, “I am one of the more sceptical partners from the European Parliament side [about the] Brexit negotiations and ongoing progress, but I have to say that after my meetings today, my main message is that I am more optimistic that there is progress; that there is the will to see progress.”

He added, “The message is that the will is there. That is the most important thing, because the perspective from a European point of view toward London was that in the last month or two there [was not]. After my meeting I have more certainty about the general direction and that is positive.”

A UK government spokesperson said, “There was extensive discussion of citizens’ rights with both the Prime Minister and Weber confirming that the issue was their foremost concern. Weber queried how the rights promised today could be guaranteed in later years. The Prime Minister and Brexit Secretary David Davis set out that the UK’s commitments would be enshrined in UK law backed by an international treaty.”

Meanwhile, a planned meeting between May and MEPs has been called off.

She was due to meet European Parliament group leaders in Brussels on 24 November, but the meeting was cancelled on Wednesday.

Parliament President Antonio Tajani and his predecessor Martin Schulz both invited May to address MEPs on Brexit at one of the Parliament’s plenary sessions in Strasbourg or in Brussels. May, though, said she preferred to speak to the Conference of Presidents, which comprises the President of the Parliament and the leaders of the political groups.

The decision not to speak to all MEPs is said to have angered some deputies.

One reason given for the cancellation was that most MEPs will not be in Brussels on 24 November, a Friday.

A Parliament insider said, “It seems mad that MEPs cannot be bothered to be in Brussels on a Friday to talk to the UK Prime Minister on possibly the biggest political debate of this generation.”

A Parliament official said both sides were now looking for a new date but have not found one yet.

Parliament does not participate in the negotiations on Brexit but MEPs will have to give their final consent to any deal.

 

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