PM faces more tough Brexit talks as EU leaders say doors MUST stay open to migrants if we want …

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at 2016.10.21
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PM faces more tough Brexit talks as EU leaders say doors MUST stay open to migrants if we want …

  • Theresa May given demands by EU at her first summit in Brussels
  • European Parliament head Martin Schulz said EU must ‘stand firm’
  • French President Francois Hollande also warned of ‘hard’ exit talks
  • European Council chief says he’s still not convinced Britain will leave
  • Ex-commissioner Lord Hill takes a swipe at advocates of ‘stupid’ Brexit 
  • Peer also warned EU leaders driven by ’emotion’ not economic interests 

James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline

Theresa May arrives for the second day of the summit today

Theresa May arrives for the second day of the summit today

Theresa May faces another tough day at her first EU summit after being bluntly told the bloc will not give ground on Brexit terms.

The Prime Minister was forced to wait until past 1am at a dinner with fellow leaders in Brussels before she got a chance to outline her hopes for future relations.

And the intervention, in which she insisted the UK should not be left out of key decisions before it formally leaves, was apparently received in stony silence.

Mrs May – who will hold talks with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker later – has also been given a stark warning that EU leaders are ’emotional’ rather than economically driven and might well punish us for voting to leave.  

Mrs May endured a difficult first day of the gathering, with leaders queuing up to signal a tough line on the looming negotiations.

Many in Brussels are unhappy that Mrs May has said restoring control of Britain’s borders will be her priority in the Brexit talks. 

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EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, pictured arriving at the summit today, is due to hold talks with Mrs May later

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, pictured arriving at the summit today, is due to hold talks with Mrs May later

Mrs May, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, led the way for their countries' interests at the summit last night

Mrs May, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, led the way for their countries’ interests at the summit last night

Currently, EU migration adds 180,000 people to the UK’s population every year.

German politician Mr Schulz told the summit: ‘From day one, the European Parliament must be fully involved in setting the new relationship between the EU and the UK – not least because it must give its consent to any withdrawal treaty and subsequent treaty setting out the full relationship.

‘Treating the European Parliament as an obstacle rather than a partner in this process would therefore be a serious mistake.’

Mr Schulz repeatedly warned Britain that, if it wants access to the single market, it must continue to leave its borders open.

‘The fundamental freedoms are inseparable, i.e. no freedom of movement for goods, capital and services, without free movement of persons,’ he said.

Theresa May, pictured with (l-r) Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite last night, has been told Britain 'must keep letting in migrant workers'

Theresa May, pictured with (l-r) Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite last night, has been told Britain ‘must keep letting in migrant workers’

She was pictured greeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with a kiss on the cheek as leaders gathered for an official photo yesterday

She was pictured greeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with a kiss on the cheek as leaders gathered for an official photo yesterday

‘They [the UK] have decided to leave the single market and they want full access to the single market after leaving the European Union. 

‘That’s only possible by accepting the fundamental rules of the European Union.’

The comments came despite Eurocrats insisting that no talks on the detail of Brexit are allowed until the UK triggers Article 50 next year.

She was also seen laughing and joking with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, right, despite many at the EU being unhappy that she has described restoring control of Britain's borders as a 'priority'

She was also seen laughing and joking with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, right, despite many at the EU being unhappy that she has described restoring control of Britain’s borders as a ‘priority’

Speaking to the press ahead of the meeting yesterday, Mrs May, pictured, said the UK would continue to play a 'full role' in the EU 'until we leave'

Speaking to the press ahead of the meeting yesterday, Mrs May, pictured, said the UK would continue to play a ‘full role’ in the EU ‘until we leave’

The Prime Minister, pictured arriving at the summit yesterday, also said Europe must 'maintain a united stance in the face of Russian aggression'

The Prime Minister, pictured arriving at the summit yesterday, also said Europe must ‘maintain a united stance in the face of Russian aggression’

Number 10 have insisted it was relaxed about the remarks, with one senior official saying: ‘This does not change our approach’.

Meanwhile, European council chief Donald Tusk said he still hoped the UK would not leave at all.

Mr Tusk, who chairs the summit, made clear he had not given up on the UK changing its mind despite Mrs May flatly ruling out a U-turn or second referendum.

‘If it is reversible or not, it is in the British hands. I will be the happiest one if it is reversible,’ he said. 

Mr Tusk said that he hoped Mrs May would realise ‘the European Union is simply the best company in the world’.

Despite hostile warnings from fellow European leaders, Mrs May looked to be enjoying herself at the Brussels meeting, pictured

Despite hostile warnings from fellow European leaders, Mrs May looked to be enjoying herself at the Brussels meeting, pictured

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Lord Hill – who stepped down as our EU commissioner after the historic referendum on June 23 – said there was a widespread and mistaken view in Brussels that the result could be overturned.

But the peer, who campaigned for Remain, suggested some ministers were underestimating the difficulties of the looming referendum.

While UK politics tended to focus on economic factors, in Europe it was more ’emotional’ and ‘romantic’ which could make a punishment strategy more likely.

In an apparent dig at hardline figures such as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Lord Hill said: ‘We have this false choice in the UK often between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit.

‘I think the choice is between stupid Brexit and more intelligent Brexit.’ 

Lord Hill said: ‘I think there is a surprisingly widely-held view that Britain might still decide to stay in. And I think that partly explains why previously Donald Tusk has talked about it as hard Brexit or no exit.

‘I think they also believe when people start to look at the practical consequences of disentangling ourselves from this very complicated relationship, then maybe we will think again.

‘I think it is so important that over the months and years ahead we have as many bridges as possible, and try and work through this in a way that secures what is in our mutual best interest, rather than the danger that I can see is that we end up doing something that is mutually self-harming.’

Tory MEP Syed Kamall, who leads the EU parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said of Mr Schulz’s comments: ‘This is all posturing. EU leaders are blowing hard now but they’ll soon see sense when the detailed negotiations begin.’

On her way into the summit, Mrs May said: ‘I am here with a very clear message: the UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave and we’ll be a strong and dependable partner after we’ve left. 

‘It is in the interests of both the UK and the EU that we continue to work closely together including at this summit. 

‘We must show a robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression.’

Mrs May also warned leaders that she would not accept decisions made without her at a summit in Bratislava last month. 

The other 27 EU leaders met to discuss the future of the bloc but she was not invited.

She said: ‘I accept the 27 need to meet but I want UK to play an active part otherwise it will be hard to accept things you agree.’

Earlier in the day, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat said some EU states still believed Britain may not leave the EU. 

He told the BBC: ‘I do think that some of us are keeping that option at the back of our mind.’

Jeremy Corbyn yesterday invited socialist leaders to a meeting in London next year to discuss an ‘alternative Brexit’.

But Tory MP Maria Caulfield said: ‘If Jeremy Corbyn was serious about making a success of leaving the EU he would get behind the Prime Minister’s negotiation – not try and talk Britain down from the sidelines.’

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Published at Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:45:12 +0000

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