Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

British PM gathers ministers ahead of Brexit speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May gathered her ministers Thursday on the eve of a major speech on Brexit, seeking to restore cabinet unity after a damaging intervention by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

May flew home with Johnson overnight from New York, where they had attended the UN General Assembly, landing at dawn before holding a special cabinet meeting in Downing Street.

The prime minister is hoping a speech in Florence on Friday will break the deadlock in negotiations with the European Union, six months after she began the two-year countdown to Britain’s withdrawal.

May will also be seeking to unite her own government, after Johnson’s decision to publish his own vision of Brexit last weekend highlighted the differences between ministers.

The foreign secretary was later forced to deny reports he was considering resigning if May took a different approach, telling reporters at the UN that the cabinet was as unified as a “nest of singing birds”.

A fourth round of talks with the European Commission is due to start next week, after the last session in August ended broke up without significant progress.

Brussels is hoping May will break the logjam with an offer on Britain’s financial settlement, one of the most contentious issues of the talks.

The Financial Times reported that she would offer to meet Britain’s contributions to the EU budget until the end of the current period in 2020 — after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Further details are also expected on a transitional deal, between Britain’s exit and the implementation of new trading arrangements with the EU.

May met a number of EU leaders in New York this week, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Dutch premier Mark Rutte.

She told British media that while Brexit negotiations were being conducted by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, the ultimate decision would be taken by the other 27 heads of government.

“The negotiations are structured within the EU so of course the Council (of leaders) has delegated with a mandate to the commission, and the commission has appointed Michel Barnier,” she was quoted as saying.

“But the decision will always be one that will be taken by the leaders.”

However, EU officials have previously warned against attempts to “divide and rule” the bloc, which has so far shown remarkable unity on the issue of Brexit.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Alice Ritchie
Alice Ritchie
AFP journalist covering British politics. South Londoner.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Section 25: ANC snubs EFF after negotiations impasse

The ANC is searching for alternatives to end months of negotiations with the EFF on the land question

Allies warned Ace against taking his party to court

Magashule is expected to argue that the step-aside rule 25.7 is unconstitutional and unlawful

More top stories

Modack defence tries ‘back door’ to pull evidence from state

The businessman and alleged underworld figure claims he is ‘severely prejudiced’ by his ‘lack of knowledge’ of the charges against him

Section 25: ANC snubs EFF after negotiations impasse

The ANC is searching for alternatives to end months of negotiations with the EFF on the land question

Allies warned Ace against taking his party to court

Magashule is expected to argue that the step-aside rule 25.7 is unconstitutional and unlawful

KZN education ‘capture’ claims against Morar persist

Whistleblower says more tender procedures have been bypassed in favour of connected auditor
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×