Corbyn should be on Britain’s Brexit talks team, top EU official suggests

17th July, 2017 9:25 am

Jeremy Corbyn should handed a place on Britain’s negotiating team for Brexit, a top EU official has suggested.

Guy Verhofstadt made the claim as speculation mounts that Theresa May could be dropped by her own party before talks to leave the EU have been completed.

“Brexit is about the whole of the UK. It will affect all UK citizens, and EU citizens in the UK. This is much bigger than one political party’s internal divisions or short term electoral positioning. It’s about people’s lives,” Verhofstadt said, adding “I am not going to give Theresa May advice on the Brexit negotiations.”

Verhofstadt, the EU parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator is in an unusual position because the European parliament can veto any Brexit deal. He is also a former prime minister of Belgium.

“I believe the negotiations should involve more people with more diverse opinions. Some recognition that the election result was, in part, a rejection of Theresa May’s vision for a hard Brexit would be welcome,” he told The Independent. 

“That is a matter for her and her government. However, in line with the European Parliament’s resolution, I do think that the negotiations need to be conducted with full transparency. But that is a general point.”

Corbyn met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, alongside Diane Abbott and Keir Starmer last week. After the meeting Barnier clarified that he only negotiates with the British government.

“Regarding the handling of Brexit so far, I think it has been somewhat chaotic. It has been over a year since the referendum now and we have only just started the negotiations. This delay has created uncertainty, which has not been good for anybody – not for the UK, not for the EU and not for citizens,” Verhofstadt added.

He was asked what would make Brussels vote against a Brexit deal, and referred to the red lines previously released by the parliament.

“It is a very detailed resolution which clearly stated that citizens interest must be a priority, there should not be a trade-off between security and the future economic relationship, no hard border in Ireland, the UK must honour all obligations (including budgetary obligations) it has committed to, and importantly there is to be no cherry picking,” he answered.

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