Theresa May dismisses threats by some in the EU to veto Brexit talks
September 20, 2016 | 10:11 am| | | Start Conversation
Theresa May shrugged off warnings from the European Union’s eastern members that they’ll veto a Brexit deal, saying that it’s in everyone’s interests to reach an agreement.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Minister Konrad Szymanski said Monday that his country won’t support a deal that’s not “balanced.” That came after Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said his country, along with Hungary, Poland and the Czechs were ready to block any deal which gave Britain access to the EU single market while ending the right of their citizens to move to the U.K.
Even her Brexit Secretary, David Davis, last week said there was a chance Britain could leave the EU without reaching a trade agreement. But when asked about this possibility, May was blunt.
May is due to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. According to extracts of the speech released by her office, she’ll argue that the Brexit vote didn’t represent a retreat from the world. British people, she’ll say, “did not vote to turn inwards or walk away from any of our partners.”
However, she’ll warn that people want “a politics that is more in touch with their concerns, and bold action to address them.”
The U.K. leader, in power for less than three months, will also use her stay in the U.S. financial capital to meet with representatives of some of the country’s top companies and reassure them that Brexit shouldn’t be a reason to pull investment from the U.K. Many U.S. businesses find the U.K. an attractive home base for their European operations, but the country’s withdrawal from the world’s biggest trading bloc could jeopardize that.
“Something like a million people in the U.K. wake up each morning and then go to work for an American company,” May said. “I will be talking to them and hearing from them what their emphasis is in terms of the issues they want us to address.”
May’s first business meeting is expected to be with senior executives from companies including Amazon.com Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, International Business Machines Corp., BlackRock Inc., and United Technologies Corp. Subsequently, there will be an evening reception for about 60 business leaders.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is traveling with May — but not trade secretary Liam Fox, who earlier this month told supporters that British businesses were too “fat and lazy” to be successful exporters. Asked about those comments, May gave a diplomatic answer.
“We all put things in different ways,” she said. “What Liam is doing is encouraging businesses to export which is an important part of his role as trade secretary.”May is under pressure to maintain London’s stature as a center of finance. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, warned on Sunday that access to the EU single market is “crucial” to the capital’s continued success. That has been the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, but people familiar with his thinking said on Friday that he has accepted this may be an impossible task. May refused to air her own views.
“We’re going to get the right deal for the U.K.,” she said.
Some EU countries such as Sweden have restated their goal to keep Britain and the bloc as close as possible.
“We will try to get the rest of the EU to find different kinds of solutions,” Ann Linde, Sweden’s EU minister, said during a panel debate on Monday at Bloomberg’s Stockholm office. “Maybe there will be, when you negotiate, there will be some kinds of compromises on both sides.”
Some argue the EU should offer the U.K. leeway to limit migration to avoid a hard break that would hurt both sides. Cutting off post-Brexit Britain from the EU’s internal market would trigger economic fallout for all parties, said Clemens Fuest, president of the Ifo economic institute.
“It would be very difficult and very bad indeed if Europe committed to this point,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We have a common interest in minimizing the economic damage.”
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