May Rushes To Brussels For Last-Minute Talks Ahead Of Weekend Summit

Following another boisterous PMQ Wednesday morning where the Prime Minister notably hinted at the possibility that Brexit could be "cancelled" following a question posed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (he asked if there are "no circumstances under which the UK will leave the EU without a deal", to which the prime minister said killing her deal would lead to "greater uncertainty...or perhaps no Brexit at all"), Theresa May is jetting off to Brussels Wednesday afternoon for a round of last-minute negotiations over the political statement that is supposed to act as a framework for negotiations over the future UK-EU trade deal that both sides will attempt to hammer out during the transition period that ends in December 2020.

Facing accusations that her last-minute meeting with EU negotiators is merely a political stunt for May's wildly unpopular draft Brexit plan (this according to the BBC), May is facing a tight deadline to hammer out several still-unresolved issues in the political statement, which must be worked out by Thursday morning to stop the EU from cancelling a weekend summit where both agreements are expected to be finalized.


Until this week, the political statement (which is merely a non-binding memo laying out what both sides should expect during negotiations) has been an afterthought as most of the Brexit-related drama centered on May's efforts to shore up support for her flailing draft agreement (which she apparently has finally done by making promises she likely won't be able to keep). But media reports that have surfaced since the beginning of the week suggest that some EU members - most notably Spain and France - are unsatisfied with the political statement as it stands, and would like to see terms added governing the treatment of Gibraltar post-Brexit and Europeans' access to UK waters for fishing purposes (something that we noted last week could emerge as a serious sleeper risk to a deal). The EU has already blown a Tuesday deadline to complete its draft of the political declaration because of these objections, which is why May is being brought in for the last-minute meetings.

Most of the leaders involved are understandably exhausted by the interminable negotiations, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has already declared that she won't seek another term in office after her current term ends in 2021, has said she won't join the negotiations until both documents are ready to sign, per the BBC. "Both documents need to be ready by Sunday so that we can sign the exit agreement and accept the declaration on the future relationship."

Though it's unlikely considering that the EU has come this far and has shown a willingness to make concessions to help increase May's chances of passing the deal through Parliament, a failure to produce final agreements by the end of the weekend would upset markets, which have only just begun to recover from last week's Brexit chaos-induced drubbing.

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Aides to the EU leaders, dubbed "sherpas" due to their role in sheperding the final agreement, want a finalized deal ready by Thursday so they will have a day to look it over before they meet in Brussels ahead of the weekend summit. If no deal is produced, there won't be a summit.

But even if a deal is reached (which it likely will) and the summit goes off without a hitch, May must still face down the insurgent Brexiteer Torys who have made it abundantly clear that they won't back her deal.