May Heads to Brussels, Without Her Brexit Secretary

Jeremy Corbyn asked Theresa May today whether the role of Brexit Secretary had become ceremonial at this point – and I see his point. The Prime Minister went to Brussels today to continue talks with Michel Barnier and EU officials.

The Prime Minister met for two hours in Brussels, where she discussed the future of EU-UK relations. This included discussions over Gibraltar, the UK territory at the southernmost part of Spain. Spanish leaders want more control over the region, which will be withdrawing from the European Union with the UK.

The Brexit deal not only has to be passed in the Houses of Parliament here in the UK, but EU member states will vote on it, too. Spain has said they will not agree to the Brexit deal unless we make concessions over the wording surrounding Gibraltar, but No. 10 sources claim they expect a solution to arrive – no doubt something that sells off a little bit of control from Gibraltar – to be arrived at by this weekend[1].

May also agreed, today, to head back to Brussels on Saturday where she will continue negotiations and, hopefully, finalise the Brexit deal just a day before the final Brexit summit on Sunday.

That’s right! The summit we’ve all been wondering about is happening this Sunday. The negotiations should of course all be out of the way by now, but Angela Merkel apparently threatened to pull the plug on the summit even happening, citing a lack of progress made on major issues.

May seems to have pulled it off, though, telling the press this evening:

“We have had a very good meeting this evening. We have made further progress and as a result, we have given sufficient direction to our negotiators. I hope for them to be able to resolve the remaining issued and that work will start immediately. I now plan to return for further meetings, including with President Juncker, on Saturday to discuss how we can bring to a conclusion this process and bring it to a conclusion in the interests of all our people”.

Assuming it all goes well, the deal will be finalised at the summit on Sunday, and it will be put to a meaningful vote in Parliament in early December. We’ll have to wait and see if Theresa May has a trick up her sleeve to pass the deal in December.

Not only does she have the DUP working against her, but Nicola Sturgeon – leader of the Scottish National Party – has confirmed that her SNP MPs will all vote against the Brexit deal, too[2]. That is, unless, May has offered the SNP some kind of special deal for Scotland behind the scenes. Sturgeon met with May in London yesterday, where they discussed the deal[3]. If May manages to sweeten Sturgeon’s SNP with some kind of special Brexit deal for Scotland, she might just get the extra votes she needs to pass the deal in Parliament.

 [1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46297725

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-46253055

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-46262646

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