With just over four months before Britain is due to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to reach a Brexit deal that will appease rebels at home. She met with the EU’s chief executive in Brussels on November 21.
May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tried to finalise an outline of future relations before a summit of EU leaders on November 25 to endorse the Brexit accord.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, EU diplomats said they had been told that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not willing to come on November 25 for any negotiations, meaning a text must be ready beforehand.
Outstanding issues include Spanish opposition over Gibraltar, with EU diplomats saying EU states’ concerns over fishing rights and future trade ties have largely been addressed in the political declaration on the EU-UK future ties that would form a package with the legally-binding divorce deal.
“The only thing really outstanding is Gibraltar,” said one EU diplomat.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demanded assurances that the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar would be settled through direct talks with Madrid.
At home, May is also facing hurdles. The publication last week of a draft exit treaty sparked the biggest crisis of May’s premiership, with two cabinet ministers quitting and dozens of Conservative members of parliament calling on her to step down.
According to Reuters, May hopes the blueprint on future relations — a political document of about 20 pages meant to be agreed side-by-side with the legally binding 600-page exit treaty — will help win back enough support at home for her approach to pass in parliament.