Mixed Messages on Brexit Negotiation, as Merkel Now Says There is Time For Change

Germany's Merkel says 'still time' to find Brexit solution
AFP

The German Chancellor appeared to throw British Prime Minister Theresa May a lifeline Tuesday morning when she was it was “humanly possible” to reach an agreement on Brexit, in comments that at least superficially appear to contradict those of other top EU figures in recent days.

Speaking during a trade trip to Japan Tuesday morning, Angela Merkel indicated there was still time to come to a Brexit agreement, but stopped short of saying there could be any change to the deal that had already been agreed between Theresa May and the European Union before being subsequently rejected by the British parliament.

While the comments may cheer those in the United Kingdom hoping for a Brexit deal what would continue to tie the nation legally and economically to the EU after Brexit, Dr Merkel hit the ball into the British court. Insisting she was still waiting to understand what the UK wanted from an eventual Brexit deal, the German leader said: “From a political point of view, there is still time.

“That should be used, used by all sides. But for this, it would be very important to know what exactly the British side envisages in terms of its relationship with the EU.”

The so-called Irish Backstop, which could have the impact of keeping the UK locked into the customs union perpetually and against its own will if activated has been the source of disagreement and relies on a trade deal being concluded to the European Union’s — but not Britain’s — satisfaction. Merkel alluded to this power the European Union will hold over the UK if May’s deal is agreed to when she said Tuesday: “It should be humanly possible to find a solution to such a precise problem. But this depends … on the kind of trade deal that we forge with each other.”

Dr Merkel’s comments came hours after top the EU’s top bureaucrat Martin Selmayr also made somewhat conciliatory — but still qualified — noises after a meeting with the Westminster parliamentary Brexit select committee on Monday evening. While The Times reports Selmayr claiming he was willing to make significant concessions to the British, the select committee rejected his offer, as he was not willing to give enough.

The new, more open approach from Dr Merkel and Mr Selmayr follow very shortly a chorus of condemnation of PM May’s intention to slightly change her Brexit deal. Selmayr has notably changed his tune from Monday, then he made clear the European Union had no intention of being accommodating.

He said: “On the EU side, nobody is considering this. Asked whether any assurance would help to get the Withdrawal Agreement through the Commons, the answers of MPs were … inconclusive… The meeting confirmed that the EU did well to start its no deal preparations in December 2017.”

Others supporting a hardline approach to the United Kingdom was Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney who said May was engaging in “wishful thinking” and Michel Barnier who said last week: The EU institutions remain united, and we stand by the agreement that we have negotiated with the U.K.”

The Prime Minister is due to meet with top Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday for last-minute Brexit talks, and is expected to ask discussions over the Brexit deal be re-opened. The Daily Telegraph reports the remarks of EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas who said that while the position of the commission has not changed — that is to say, is against any accommodation of the UK — they are nonetheless “waiting to see what the Prime Minister has to say”.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

 

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