Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

May Is Sidelined at EU Summit as Leaders Greet Her Speech with Silence

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

May Is Sidelined at EU Summit as Leaders Greet Her Speech with Silence

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor in Brussels

BRITAIN paid a new price for Brexit today as Theresa May was cast into the sidelines of her first EU summit.

In a snub to the Prime Minister, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker threw his hands in the air with a dismissive "pfff " when asked how her debut at a dinner had gone.

Mrs May's first speech to a full EU summit was relegated to the end of a six-hour dinner and was met by silence, with leaders adhering to their refusal to discuss Brexit until the UK starts exit procedures by moving Article 50.

Mr Juncker, who was due to have a private lunch with Mrs May after the other leaders had gone home this after-noon, said: "We had no special event with Theresa May yesterday.

"She was explaining what her intentions are. I'll have lunch with her and then we will see what happens."

Mrs May, marking her 100th day in office, had no private meetings with other leaders this morning, in contrast with past summits when her predecessors usually negotiated at bilateral talks with other big players.

It emerged she was forced to protest during last night's dinner that the other 27 leaders were trying to make decisions without her. According to a diplomat, she said: "I accept that 27 needs to meet, but I want the UK to play an active part. Thus, we should meet as 28, otherwise it will be hard for me to accept things you agreed among yourselves. I expect to be fully involved in all discussions related to the EU 28."

The other 27 have held two informal meetings without the UK since the June referendum for Brexit. Another is planned in Malta in January. But Mrs May's plea was angrily rejected by a senior German MEP. Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, hit out at the UK for blocking long-term measures to beef up EU military and cyber-warfare defences.

He told BBC Radio 4: "It's not really normal that a member who wants to leave a club wants to decide about the future of this club. …

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