29 Nov 2016

Merkel to May on Brexit negotiations: ‘nein danke’

An interesting tale on Politico about how Chancellor Merkel said “nein danke” when Theresa May tried to settle the issue of EU resident citizens’ rights earlier this month.

Theresa May seems to have tried to solve one big outstanding issue ahead of proper full negotiations: the future rights of EU citizens who reside in the UK and UK citizens who are living in the EU. Chancellor Merkel sensed it was a case of the UK trying to start one bit of the Brexit negotiation before the formal agreed starting point, probably March 2017, after Article 50 has been moved.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrive for a statement prior to a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on November 18, 2016. / AFP / POOL / Michael Sohn (Photo credit should read MICHAEL SOHN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mrs May may be wondering who suggested that little push for a deal might work and won’t have enjoyed being rebuffed. Officials may have been encouraged by other EU members who seemed potentially up for an early deal on this discrete issue.

There’s a few suspicions amongst the 27 about how the UK may attempt to play fast and loose once the full-scale talks are under way. One minister said the government was definitely up for one-on-one side deals with individual EU members where that might help achieve wider UK aims in the overall talks. That would be in defiance of the EU attempt to get all 27 negotiating as one.

I mentioned on last night’s Channel 4 News how officials in Whitehall in the context of Brexit trading have referred to Britain’s skills and capacity on defence and intelligence issues as a “security surplus”. Theresa May seems anything but squeamish when it comes to leveraging anything she can to get the deal she wants. Some critics in the EU and at home think this approach risks a little dignity and puts central tenets of the UK’s strategic approach under question.


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