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May says ball is in EU’s court as Brexit talks resume

Update: October, 09/2017 - 11:16

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May will tell the European Union today that "the ball is in their court" as her divided government resumes Brexit negotiations in Brussels.

She will use a speech in the House of Commons to urge both sides to show "flexibility" in seeking a deal on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, her Downing Street office said.

"A new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends," May will say.

"Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

"And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response."

Six months after May began the two-year process of leaving the EU, negotiations with the European Commission on the terms of the divorce are progressing slowly.

In a speech in Florence last month, the prime minister made concessions on Britain’s financial settlement and the rights of EU citizens in a bid to ease the stalemate.

But the European Parliament last week backed a motion stating there had not been enough progress to move onto the next phase of the talks on the future trading relationship.

The MEPs also harshly criticised divisions in the British government over its Brexit plan.

Since losing her parliamentary majority in the June snap election, May has struggled to keep her ministers on message, most notably Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Tensions came to a head on Friday following her disastrous speech to her party conference, with the exposure of a plot by around 30 MPs to try to oust her.

Senior ministers -- including Johnson -- rallied around over the weekend and rumours swirled of a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle in which May could assert her authority.

She flexed her muscles by suspending two Conservative MEPs, Julie Girling and Richard Ashworth, who had backed the European Parliament’s motion to delay trade talks. — AFP


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