Merkel Party: ‘Little Progress’ to Brexit Talks Following May’s Speech, Demands ‘Clarity’ on Divorce Bill

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 20: Theresa May, prime minister of the United Kingdom (L), attends a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The two leaders discussed their upcoming cooperation together as well as the United Kingdom's withdrawing of its membership from the …
Adam Berry/Getty

A senior politician in the German Bundestag has said Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech has led to ‘little progress’ in Brexit talks, and doubts the UK will be ready for negotiations before the European Council meeting in October.

“Theresa May’s speech demonstrates the will of London to go into the Brexit negotiations. The speech, however, will unfortunately not lead to a new dynamic coming into the talks, which would be so urgently needed,” explained Michael Stübgen on Saturday.

Like French President Emmanuel Macron, Focus reports that the head of the German parliament’s European Union working group for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives is demanding ‘clarity’ on the divorce bill and the Irish borders following what was a concessionary speech delivered by Mrs. May in Florence on Friday – directed primarily at a European audience.

Though not demanding, as Macron did, that talks be halted until the aforementioned, as well as the rights of EU citizens, be ‘clarified’ before negotiations recommence, the conservative spokesman doubted the UK’s readiness to negotiate before the European Council meeting next month.

“On this basis, the necessary progress will hardly be achieved in the Brexit negotiations until October,” Stübgen said.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the speech “disappointing”, alluding to the approaching European Council meeting saying, “slowly, time is running away”.

The foreign minister also shared Macron’s demands for the rights of EU citizens in the UK to be ‘clarified’ before talks recommence; however, reciprocal offers for British citizens’ rights in the EU have yet to be formalised.

Conservative Brexit campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has hitherto stood behind the prime minister on Brexit, broke ranks from the party and said of May’s Friday speech: “If you are kind you would say that the prime minister has made a generous offer and put it to the Europeans to respond. If you were unkind, you would say there has been a series of concessions whilst the European Union has not made a single concession.”

Chancellor Merkel, who is currently campaigning ahead of Sunday’s federal elections where she is expected to win a fourth term in power, did not comment directly on May’s speech, but last year rejected an offer by May to do an early deal guaranteeing residency rights for British expats in the EU and claimed that Britain had “illusions” over Brexit.

“I need to make it clear here because I have the feeling that some in Britain still have illusions, and that is a waste of time,” she said in April, adding that whilst the bloc still envisions the UK as a ‘close partner’, the nation cannot “be in a better position than a member of the European Union”.

“All of the 27 members of the European Union and European institutions are agreed upon that.”

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