British Prime Minister Theresa May has rebuffed warnings from EU Member States who are threatening to veto Brexit negotiations unless free movement of people into Britain in preserved. Ms May insisted that the remaining EU member states will do a deal with Britain, and that the deal will be in Britain’s best interest.
Over the weekend the four Eastern EU member states which make up the Visigrad group (V4) – Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic – warned that they were willing to block all agreement with the UK unless the British government guaranteed the right for their citizens to live and work in the UK under current “freedom of movement” rules.
Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico insisted: “V4 countries will be uncompromising. Unless we feel a guarantee that these people are equal, we will veto any agreement between the EU and Britain. I think Britain knows this is an issue for us where there’s no room for compromise.”
On Monday he continued with this theme, announcing that the remaining European member states plan to make it “very difficult for the UK”, and insisted that Britain is “bluffing” when it says it can secure a good deal.
But asked by reporters in whether the warnings from EU leaders were a sign that they may refuse to do a deal with the UK, May said: “The 27 will sign up to a deal with us,” The Telegraph has reported.
She added: “We will be negotiating with them and we will be ambitious in what we want to see for the United Kingdom.
“It’s right for us to do that. But I think a good deal for the UK can also be a good deal for the other member states because I believe in good trading relations and I want the UK to be a global leader in free trade.”
The Prime Minister continued: “I had very constructive meetings with [Mr Fico] when I was doing my visits earlier in the summer.
“We’re going to be in a negotiation with the 27 members of the European Union about the relationship we will have with them when we leave the EU.
“I’ve said what I want to see is the deal that’s right for the UK. I think that will also be a deal that’s good for the member states of the European Union.
“This is not just about us – it’s actually about relationships and trading within that European arena. So we will go into these negotiations and we will be ambitious for the UK.”
Mrs May is currently attending the UN’s General Assembly in New York, where she will today defend the Brexit vote, telling colleagues that the British people did not opt to leave the EU in order to “turn inwards or walk away”.
She will also advise world leaders that the referendum result proves people want “a politics that is more in touch with their concerns”.