- Yves Herman/Reuters
- EU losing patience over Theresa May’s failure to agree on a Brexit divorce deal.
- The prime minister has until the end of this week to organise an agreement.
- An EU ambassador says: “We cannot go on like this,” after latest setback.
LONDON – The EU is in despair over Theresa May’s failure to agree on a Brexit divorce agreement, with there being less than a week left to salvage a deal.
Time is running out for the prime minister to make an agreement, with the crucial European Council summit looming at the end of next week when EU leaders will meet to decide whether Brexit talks can move onto the next stage.
EU negotiators expect May to return to Brussels very soon, with the final deadline for an agreement reported to be Friday, with Sunday as a last resort.
“The show is now in London,” the chief spokesperson of the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters on Tuesday.
He said: “We stand ready here in the commission to resume talks with the United Kingdom at any moment in time when we get the sign that London is ready.”
EU officials are becoming impatient at May’s failure to finish the deal, with the latest stalemate coming after the DUP vetoed a plan to sort the Irish border problem out with continued regulatory alignment.
An EU ambassador told the Guardian that this setback was part of a wider issue with the prime minister: “At root, the problem is that [May] seems incapable of making a decision and is afraid of her own shadow.”
They added: “We cannot go on like this, with no idea what the UK wants. She just has to have the conversation with her own cabinet, and if that upsets someone, or someone resigns, so be it. She has to say what kind of trading relationship she is seeking. We cannot do it for her, and she cannotdefer=”defer”forever.”
Finnish MEP Petri Sarvamaa said that the EU is “in a very difficult position because it would not be in our interests to see the whole thing fall apart,” but “at the same time … it’s not our duty to help the British government in a negotiation that is between them and us.”
He said: “They have to solve this thing 100% by themselves but unfortunately it looks impossible. We really don’t want the negotiations to fall down, we don’t want the British government to fall apart, but what can we do?”
Officials in Brussels have delayed their own usual procedures in order to prolong the possibility of an agreement before next week’s European Council. They thought they were very close to a deal on Monday before it fell apart.
“Sufficient progress” needs to have been made on the financial settlement, the Irish border and citizens’ rights in order for the council to allow Brexit negotiations to move on to trade and transition.