Merkel lays down the gauntlet: EU leaders agree anti-Brexit tactics, warning UK that ANY EU member can block trade talks unless May makes a ‘serious’ offer to guarantee rights of European citizens

Saturday, April 29, 2017
By Paul Martin

Council President Tusk stood by his demand that Britain and the EU’s past relationship is resolved first
He said means the Brexit bill, dealing with EU citizens and resolving the Irish border must all be sorted out
The UK was determined to push for talks on the future to take place in parallel but this now appears dead
But in a rare show of complete unity, the EU27 agreed its position in just four minutes at today’s summit

29 April 2017

Donald Tusk today demanded a ‘serious’ offer from Britain on guaranteeing the rights of European citizens before Brexit trade talks can begin as the EU agreed its opening gambit for the negotiations.

The EU Council President warned Theresa May there was a detailed list of rights that must be guaranteed and warned any EU state could veto the start of talks about the future relationship if they were unhappy.

At a joint press conference, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he had a document ready on 25 citizens’ rights but warned if Britain haggles, it will take up a ‘huge amount of time’ in the two-year Brexit process.

Mrs May’s hopes of parallel talks on the divorce and the future trade deal now appear to have been killed off. Today’s agreement will put huge pressure on summits in the autumn to reach agreements that allow progress to be made.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tonight warned it was ‘natural’ the EU would speak with one voice but insisted unity did not mean Britain would be punished.

Europe’s most powerful leader had set the tone for today’s historic agreement after warning Brexiteers were ‘delusional’ if the thought they could could get a better deal out of the EU than inside the bloc.

On the campaign trail today, the Prime Minister Theresa May repeated her familiar refrain that every vote for her on June 8 will give her a stronger hand in the negotiations – but she did not comment specifically on today’s events.

Brexit Secretary David Davis warned there were some people on both sides seeking to undermine the negotiations but said he approached the talks with ‘goodwill and sincere cooperation’.

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