23 Oct 2017

Juncker warned Selmayr: This won’t leak

As Theresa May and David Davis were leaving the dining room at the Berlaymont building last Monday, Jean Claude Juncker made a point of saying, within their hearing, addressing Martin Selmayr: now we won’t have any leaks of this will we Martin?

Some in No 10 are unconvinced by Mr Selmayr’s denial that he is behind the caustic version of events that popped up in Germany yesterday – you can read the details here.

No 10 has always insisted that they didn’t beg for that dinner last Monday but that the invitation came from the Commission (a month earlier, I am told). One Whitehall source says No 10 held back on accepting until a few days beforehand because it wasn’t clear if the PM might need to vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill that night (which is rather undermining of the argument that there was never any intention to bring it back for Committee stage earlier than has turned out).

But what those Monday dinner talks and others with the Commission appear to have produced is a plan to keep the UK very much in touch with the EU27’s discussion of the negotiating guidelines on a transition.

The commission is said to feel that the wording of the communique from last week’s summit gives them headroom to keep in touch with the UK whilst not actually negotiating on a transition.

When it comes to the EU27 discussing their guidelines on trade negotiations the door will be more firmly shut on Britain but one UK official said: “We hope to be the last voice they hear before they go in and the first person people talk to when they come out.”

On the transition, there’s a feeling in parts of Whitehall that there really isn’t going to be much scope for adjusting the rules to make the UK feel more comfortable.

The discussions might focus more on what legal basis is used for mirroring current rules not on how you can tweak them to satisfy UK ministers who are very uncomfortable with implications for continuing ECJ jurisdiction or the the operations of the CFP.

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