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Optimistic May to call for flexibility from European Union in Brexit talks

Optimistic May to call for flexibility from European Union in Brexit talks”

The embattled May is set to tell the British parliament on Monday that she expects "leadership and flexibility" from the other 27 European Union countries in the negotiations.

May appeared on Sunday to have survived a concerted attempt to remove her, and fought back with a veiled threat to demote her rebellious foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

The immediate rebellion in party ranks seems to have been quelled for the moment, but May has been in a weakened position since her decision to call a snap election in June backfired, costing the Conservative Party its outright majority in Parliament.

A fifth round of talks between British and European Union officials began Monday in Brussels.

Speaking in parliament, May said her negotiators had made progress on the first phase of talks, tackling the rights of expatriates and the border with EU-member Ireland, and that she was determined to secure a new partnership with the other 27 members of the wealthy political and trade bloc.

In Brussels, officials are questioning whether May will survive even until a summit on October 19, but diplomats said governments insisted they would not ease their demands to help her move on with talks on a post-Brexit transition.

The UK's Brexit minister, David Davis, in a separate letter to the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, urged him to do the same with Labour's 18 MEPs who also voted in favour of the resolution.

According to a source familiar with the matter, May told business leaders that for her, a roughly two-year transitional agreement was non-negotiable. "They need to drop their absurd and unsafe threat to leave without a deal, guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, and rethink their ideological decision to leave the single market and customs union". However, leaders could still agree to let Barnier look at some transition issues, depending on next week's negotiating round, diplomats said.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier have made it clear that the UK's expectations to make the leap forward are premature.

Aides to May have signalled that the prime minister has accepted that her October deadline will not be met despite a speech in Italy last month which attempted to reset the tone of the hard negotiations.

The prime minister will say "progress will not always be smooth", but add that she wants the best possible deal for both the United Kingdom and the EU.

May, however, said on Friday that she would stay on as prime minister to provide stability.

"We are fast reaching the point when the prime minister should assert the authority of her office over the negotiations and call time", Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative lawmaker, wrote in the Guardian newspaper.

"And yes we will mostly have to operate under existing rules during the transition but we will be able to negotiate proper free trade deals and business will be able to prepare properly for Brexit".



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