Time to turn speeches into treaties

Theresa May

It is a European issue.

That comment elicited repeated shouts of "It's a British issue sir", from UKIP member David Coburn.

Mr Juncker was cheered by Eurosceptic MEPs as he noted the UK's departure from the European Union was due to happen on March 29, 2019.

Responding to their applause, Juncker said the time would come "when you will regret your decision".

"It should come as no surprise that the only remaining possible model is a free trade agreement", European Council President Donald Tusk said in his statement upon publishing the guidelines, refusing much of the vision that May had shared in her Manson speech.

Juncker added: "I would rather have preferred for Britons not to decide to leave the European Union but anyone who leaves the EU has to know frankly what this means". "If you decide to jettison, leave behind, the common agreements and rules, then you have to accept that things can not remain as they are".

May, but mainly repeating the red lines that we've already known for two years", said Guy Verhofstadt, representative of the European Parliament for Brexit, "the problem is today we don't have a proposal from the United Kingdom side on the future relationship.

But he warned that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic could be a major roadblock to sealing a deal.

Eloise Todd
PAEloise Todd believes a new poll may become inevitable due to the'referendum lock

The draft EU text published last month says Northern Ireland must stay in a customs union with the rest of the bloc if no better way is found to avoid a hard Irish border - which Britain rejects. "For us this is not an Irish issue".

But mounting differences over Britain's divorce from the European Union have led the bloc to warn repeatedly that time was running out, that the post-Brexit transition was not a given, and that London should be more precise and realistic on what sort of future ties it sought.

The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt also called for more details from Ms May.

He said: "There was this Mansion House speech by Mrs May, but it was mainly repeating the red lines that we know already".

"As the clock counts down with one year to go it is now time to translate speeches into treaties", Juncker said.

The UK had no need to be "shocked", he said, that Brussels was holding the British government to its commitments made in a joint report with the commission last December to otherwise keep Northern Ireland in lock step with European Union law, as the status quo would not last beyond Brexit day on 29 March 2019.

With the United Kingdom scheduled to leave the bloc in a year's time and much still to negotiate, Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament and one of Brexit's most vocal champions, urged May to stand up to the "unelected bullies" of the EU and revelled in the USA threat of punitive trade tariffs.

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