Tory Brexiteers have warned Prime Minister Theresa May over a two-week ultimatum the European Union handed Britain to make concessions on a divorce agreement.
EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier said Friday that providing clarification on the concessions “is absolutely vital if we are to achieve sufficient progress in December.”
Otherwise “we will continue and that will pull back the opening of discussions on the future,” Barnier stated at a joint press conference with UK Brexit minister David Davis in Brussels.
Following his remarks, one Conservative former cabinet minister called the demands “unacceptable,” while another prominent backbencher said any more concessions would be a “sign of weakness.”
Ex-minister John Whittingdale said, “The Prime Minister has moved quite a long way. We have made a very generous offer through her speech in Florence.”
However, the EU has “essentially not budged from the position,” Whittingdale noted, adding, “And some of those things I don’t think are acceptable, such as the involvement of the European Court of Justice once we have left the European Union.”
In addition, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said although the UK should not walk away from the talks, “it is time not to be walked over.”
“The UK Government has so far made a number of generous concessions,” Rees-Mogg said, adding, “Any further ones would be a sign of weakness when the EU desperately needs our money for the past two years of [its budget] to remain solvent.”
Meanwhile, Conservative MP John Redwood said he did not mind the deadlines, but added, “I don’t want the Government to offer them any money at all.”
“One of the things we voted for is to pay for our priorities with our own money.”
In her September speech in Florence, Italy, May said Brexit does not mean that the UK wishes to be a partner, and not a member state of the EU.
She stressed that the UK would leave the European Single Market, but noted that London still wants economic relations with the bloc and it will not turn its back on Europe.
EU officials have been complaining that the British side has been weaseling out of its obligations and failing to address the three key points raised in previous Brexit talks: EU citizen rights, Northern Ireland’s border and a divorce bill.