Juncker denies describing May as 'nebulous', after PM confronts him

Prime Minister Theresa May apparently berating European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker

Juncker said May was "a good friend, and I am admiring her, because this is a woman of great courage doing her job in the best way possible".

There was nothing nebulous about Theresa May's request to her fellow leaders last night, whatever Jean-Claude Juncker says.

At a press conference later on Friday, May confirmed that she had a "robust" conversation with Juncker, who reassured her that the "nebulous" remark was about the "general level of debate", not the UK PM personally.

Mrs May insisted she had been "crystal clear" about the UK's need for firmer assurances that the backstop can not become permanent.

The EU has rejected her calls for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to be tweaked.

She welcomed a statement by the other leaders on Thursday, describing the summit's conclusions as having "legal status".

Speaking at a summit in Brussels, she said there was still "work to do" but there had been progress and talks over "further clarification" would continue.

The European commission president also said he wants to "bring down the temperature" of the Brexit debate in a bid to get the deal through the United Kingdom parliament.

Mrs May's hopes of a legally binding commitment on the backstop from the EU27 were dashed yesterday, when Mr Juncker said there could be "no real changes" to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated over 18 months.

Richard Vaughan     2 hours Friday December 14th 2018   
 


	
		
						Luxembourg PM tells UK journalist 'Brexit is your choice not mine'	
	
		Brexit
Richard Vaughan 2 hours Friday December 14th 2018 Luxembourg PM tells UK journalist 'Brexit is your choice not mine' Brexit

Putting a positive gloss on the bruising European Union summit, the Prime Minister said further talks would take place in the coming days on measures she hopes will persuade MPs to back the Brexit agreement in Parliament.

That has failed to satisfy critics of May's plan, who say the backstop opens the risk of Britain being bound by European Union trade rules indefinitely, unless the two sides can agree on another way to keep their borders nearly totally open.

"Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want", he said.

He had told a press conference the Brexit debate is "sometimes nebulous and imprecise", but was forced to clarify his comments the following day.

We don't want the United Kingdom to feel there can be any form of renegotiation whatsoever. It is clear we can look at this issue of further clarification.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Hunt indicated that he would be happy for Britain to leave without a deal.

May herself has acknowledged that Britain's parliament appears deadlocked with no clear support for any option, with the small Northern Irish party that props up her government leading the criticism of her deal.

Under huge pressure at home as British media on Friday described her largely unsuccessful plea for help from European Union leaders as a humiliation, May appeared anxious to make a point to Juncker before a new session in the morning.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has called for May to move on and put the deal to MPs.

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