Theresa May Comes Out Fighting Against Juncker
Beleaguered UK Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured above) has put her ‘week from hell’ behind her and will today attempt to shore up her flailing leadership with a strong attack on both Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier.
The PM will use her address to the Commons today to warn the EU negotiators against ‘stonewalling’ and to urge them to come back with a ‘constructive’ response to her recent Florence speech. To highlight the consequences for not coming on board, she will also announce plans for a multi-billion pound overhaul of the UK’s border controls, which she will implement immediately should the Brexit talks collapse without a deal.
Many will see Mrs. May’s problems at Conservative Party conference last week as evidence of a weak, accident prone prime minister, who has run out of time and ideas and who lacks the strength of leadership to grasp back control of her premiership. Today’s intervention will be seen as a final throw of the dice to prove that she can re-assert her reputation as a strong leader.
Her remarks are expected to be seen as the clearest signal yet that ministers are drastically accelerating contingency preparations for walking out of the Brussels talks without a deal.
Mrs May is understood to be irritated that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his chief negotiator Michel Barnier have failed to come up with a serious counter offer to the Brexit proposals she set out in her keynote speech in Florence last month.
In a Commons statement she is expected to tell MPs: “A new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.
“Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.
“And as we look forward to the next stage the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.
“Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but also the best possible deal for our European friends too.
Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier both welcomed the Prime Minister’s Florence speech as “constructive” but then claimed her offer did not go far enough to allow the negotiations to move on to the issue of trade.
Her proposals include a transitional period of “around two years” after the official Brexit date of continuing close ties with Brussels with an estimated payment totalling £18billion.
The EU negotiating team are holding out for a far higher sum, however.
Amid the deadlock it emerged yesterday that Mrs May has decided to commit billions of pounds to tighten Britain’s borders in the event of walking out of the talks.
Chancellor Philip Hammond is understood to have agreed to the expenditure with Treasury sources indicating that billions of pounds would be “unlocked” in the New Year to press ahead with the border shake-up to prepare for leaving the EU in 2019 without a deal.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab yesterday confirmed that the preparations have begun.
He said: “Those contingency plans are well under way.
“The Prime Minister has been very clear right from the outset that we’re going into these negotiations with our EU friends wanting to get the very best for us and for them.
“I know as a justice minister the preparations that are under way if those negotiations don’t lead to the positive result we all want and it is only right that the Chancellor prepares for that too.”
Mrs May was pushing for a “bespoke deal that is faithful to the referendum result that takes back control of our money, our laws and our borders”, Mr Raab said.
He added: “We’ve shown the detail of our plans, we’ve extended the arm of friendship.”
Mr Raab said that while a trade deal with the EU was the “optimum” outcome, he was not afraid of leaving the bloc without an agreement.
“I want us to strive for the best deal and I’d like to see us get that deal and I’m confident we can.
Meanwhile, Sir John Major yesterday warned that “disloyal” Tory MPs attempting to overthrow Theresa May risked putting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.
The former prime minister spoke out about his “increasing dismay” over the turmoil in Conservative ranks.
Boris Johnson also hit out by describing the conspirators within the party as “nutters”.
Comparing his Tory colleagues to a herd of elephants, the Foreign Secretary said: “Are we really going to be stampeded myopically over the edge of the gorge, with an election that no one wants?
“Quo quo scelesti ruitis? as Horace put it at the beginning of a fresh bout of Rome’s ghastly civil wars, and which roughly translates as: What do you think you are doing you nutters? “From what I can see the Tory herd has refused to be so goaded. We have sniffed the air and turned sensibly away from the cliff.”
Additional reporting by Express.co.uk
Westmonster Dave is the News Editor of Kipper Central.