UK's May says EU 'threats' aim to impact election

Thursday, May 4th, 2017
Last Update: 08:41

British PM May has accused the European Union of making Brexit negotiations tough to impact the June 8 UK election. The comments come as more details emerge on a long and difficult Brexit path.confirming the content of the reports.

Martin Selmayr, who is Juncker΄s head of cabinet, said Wednesday that May was an impressive negotiator, which was good for Brexit talks.

"Brexit will never become a success, of course, because it is a sad and sorry event, but it can be managed in a professional and pragmatic way," Selmayr said.

Doubts over Brexit negotiations were further cast into doubt on Wednesday when the "Financial Times" reported that the EU would request the United Kingdom pay a 100 billion euros ($110 billion) Brexit bill.

In Brussels on Wednesday, Barnier refused to give a figure, saying only that any payment would be about "settling the accounts" and London living up to commitments made during four decades of membership. British Brexit Minister David Davis rebuked the report, saying Britain could not be forced to make payments.

The EU negotiating position is that Britain must settle payments, the rights of EU citizens in Britain and the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland before any talks on a trade deal can begin. May wants the trade talks and other issues to be negotiated at the same time.

May called a snap election last month in a bid to get a stronger mandate for Brexit negotiations set to begin next month. Her Conservative΄s have a double-digit lead in the polls.

"Whoever wins on 8 June will face one overriding task: to get the best possible deal for this United Kingdom from Brexit," May said, recognizing that if negotiations with the EU do not go right the "consequences will be serious" and felt by ordinary British citizens.

She added that voters had a choice between a stable Conservative government and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn "with a hung parliament and a coalition of chaos."

British PM May has accused the European Union of making Brexit negotiations tough to impact the June 8 UK election. The comments come as more details emerge on a long and difficult Brexit path.

British PM accuses EU officials of ΄threats΄

Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday accused Brussels of issuing "threats against Britain" over its exit from the European Union in order to sway the outcome of the June 8 parliamentary election.

Speaking after visiting Queen Elizabeth II to mark the dissolution of parliament and the start of the election campaign, May said the EU had hardened its position over negotiating Brexit in the past few days.

"Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials," she said in front of Downing Street. "All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on 8 June."

The comments came hours after the EU΄s chief negotiator on Brexit talks, Michel Barnier, unveiled a common bloc strategy agreed to on Saturday at an EU summit for negotiations that he said would be neither quick nor painless.

"In the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be," the Conservative Party leader said, adding that Britain΄s position had been "misrepresented in the continental press."

German media reported over the weekend that a dinner meeting over Brexit between May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week ended with the two sides further apart than when the dinner began.

Correspondant Josh Bloom on Theresa May΄s position in the Brexit negotiations

Juncker reportedly left the meeting saying he was "10 times more skeptical" negotiations would succeed and told German Chancellor Merkel that the British prime minister was living in a "different galaxy." Asked on Wednesday whether he had regretted that the content of the talks had been leaked to the press, Juncker said "Yes," without confirming the content of the reports.

Martin Selmayr, who is Juncker΄s head of cabinet, said Wednesday that May was an impressive negotiator, which was good for Brexit talks.

"Brexit will never become a success, of course, because it is a sad and sorry event, but it can be managed in a professional and pragmatic way," Selmayr said.

Doubts over Brexit negotiations were further cast into doubt on Wednesday when the "Financial Times" reported that the EU would request the United Kingdom pay a 100 billion euros ($110 billion) Brexit bill.

In Brussels on Wednesday, Barnier refused to give a figure, saying only that any payment would be about "settling the accounts" and London living up to commitments made during four decades of membership. British Brexit Minister David Davis rebuked the report, saying Britain could not be forced to make payments.

The EU negotiating position is that Britain must settle payments, the rights of EU citizens in Britain and the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland before any talks on a trade deal can begin. May wants the trade talks and other issues to be negotiated at the same time.

May called a snap election last month in a bid to get a stronger mandate for Brexit negotiations set to begin next month. Her Conservative΄s have a double-digit lead in the polls.

"Whoever wins on 8 June will face one overriding task: to get the best possible deal for this United Kingdom from Brexit," May said, recognizing that if negotiations with the EU do not go right the "consequences will be serious" and felt by ordinary British citizens.

She added that voters had a choice between a stable Conservative government and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn "with a hung parliament and a coalition of chaos."

"We continue to believe that no deal is better for Britain than a bad deal. But we want a deal. We want a deep and special partnership with the European Union. And we want the EU to succeed," she said.

"But the events of the last few days have shown that - whatever our wishes, and however reasonable the positions of Europe΄s other leaders - there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed," she added.

cw/sms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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