Theresa May hits back at "negative anonymous briefings" from Brussels over Brexit
Theresa May dramatically slammed Brussels chiefs over their ânegative anonymous briefingâ over Brexit.
A senior EU official had accused the Prime Minister of âchasing a fantasyâ exit from the European Union.
With both sides locked in stalemate, Mrs May hit back by urging EU bosses to âlook beyond soundbitesâ.
But she faces the risk of accusations of hypocrisy. The Prime Minister has herself repeatedly used soundbites to discuss Brexit since becoming PM in 2016.
Among her favourites are âBrexit means Brexitâ and her vow to deliver a âdeep and special partnershipâ.
EU frustration over her failure to come up with a preferred proposal for customs relations hit fever pitch last week.
One senior official acc used Mrs May of âchasing a fantasyâ, while chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier compared the process to a game of hide-and-seek.
Both of the options being considered by the Government - a customs partnership under which the UK collects tariffs on behalf of the EU or a âmaximum facilitationâ arrangement using new technology to avoid delays on the Irish border - have been anonymously branded âunworkableâ by Brussels.
Meanwhile, manufacturersâ organisation EEF dismissed the prospect of having âMax Facâ up and running by 2020 as ânaive and wholly unrealisticâ and called on ministers to ditch it.
In a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark, EEF chief executive Stephen Phipson said experience on the US-Canadian border showed that Max Fac - which is backed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - is âa non-starterâ which risks creating tailbacks from London to Paris.
The decision would have âeconomic consequences for thousands of Briti sh businesses and real financial implications for the millions of people who work for themâ, said Mr Phipson.
Theresa Mayâs official spokesman acknowledged âthere is more work to be doneâ on both option. He declined to say when the Prime Ministerâs Brexit war cabinet would come to a conclusion.
Asked how the PM responded to suggestions she was indulging in fantasies about the outcomes she might achieve, the spokesman responded: âAs the Brexit Secretary said last week, we need to approach these discussions with the interests of our citizens at heart.
âThat means focusing on holding constructive talks inside the negotiation room. We also need to be constructive outside the room, which means looking beyond soundbites and negative anonymous briefings.â
The PMâs spokesman played down the significance of an invitat ion offered by the 27 remaining EU states for the UK to take part in discussions on the blocâs Â£1 trillion budget for the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) period, for 2020-27.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Brussels chiefs are planning to block British defence firms from bidding for EU work after Brexit.
A new â¬500m European Defence Industrial Development Programme is to be set up in 2019 as part of an EU-wide attempt to get member states to spend more on defence.
But British officials have warned that they believe the European Commission is playing hardball by insisting on âstrict conditionsâ for non-EU companies who want to access the fund.
British officials fear the hurdles are so high that the countryâs defence industry risks being shut out of EU defence procurement.
The PMâs spokesman said: âThe PM has been clear that we will want to continue working together in ways which promote long-term economic development and t he security of our continent.â
Separately, the Treasury sought to play down the scale of reported differences with the Bank of England over post-Brexit regulations.
Tensions have been sparked by the EUâs rejection of a âmutual recognition planâ which would have given the Bank autonomous control of regulations in the City of London.
The Bank reportedly opposed a Treasury compromise which would keep UK controls closely aligned to Brussels, but leave Threadneedle Street a ârule takerâ.
A Treasury spokesman said: âHM Treasury and the Bank of England are united in our aim to ensure the stability and prosperity of our economy, and we are working together to ensure that the UK continues to remain the pre-eminent financial services centre of the world.
âWe agree the United Kingdom cannot be an automatic ârule takerâ. We will start our first day outside the European Union from a unique position with full alignment.âSource: Google News