Saturday, December 16, 2017

European leaders are finding it hard to understand the UK’s position on Brexit due to mixed messages from the country, Ireland’s prime minister has said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the ambiguity meant the other 27 nations in the EU are struggling to grasp what the UK wants from negotiations.

“It’s still not clear what the UK actually wants in terms of a new relationship, because on the one hand it seems that the UK wants to have a close trading relationship with Europe like it has now, but it also seems to want something different, and it is very hard for us as European prime ministers to understand exactly what the UK wants the new relationship to look like,” he said.

In an interview with the BBC’s Spotlight programme, he said: “It certainly can’t be, and I think anyone will understand it can’t be, having all the benefits of EU membership but none of the responsibilities and none of the costs. If you join a club, you obey the rules and you pay the membership fee.”

EU leaders are due to meet at a summit on Thursday and Friday, during which the UK’s Brexit proposals will be discussed.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is due to outline developments in her Brexit plans, and is expected to argue that sufficient progress has been made in talks for them to continue to the next stage.

After she leaves on Friday, the 27 leaders will then hold a separate meeting on the UK’s withdrawal plans at which Ms May will not be present.

The UK has previously been criticised by EU leaders over claims that the country’s Brexit plans lack sufficient depth or detail.

The UK Government has denied this, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this week urging the EU to “get on” with talks to ensure timely progress is made.

Press Association