'The EU is in control of Brexit': Steven Barclay admits UK has lost power over future of Brexit

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The Brexit Secretary admitted this morning that the EU holds the power over the future of Brexit and blamed MPs for the UK’s loss of control.

Asked whether Europe was in the driving seat, Stephen Barclay told BBC Radio 4 Today: “That is a consequence of Parliament, not the Government.

“The Government has agreed a deal with the EU. It is Parliament that has forced this on the Government.”

He made the comments as Theresa May prepares to ask EU leaders for another Brexit extension as she visits Brussels for an emergency summit.

The Prime Minister is set to repeat her request to delay Brexit until June 30, with the possibility of an earlier departure if the UK’s withdrawal deal is ratified.

However, European Council president Donald Tusk has suggested the UK is granted a longer extension of up to one year – putting Mrs May on another collision course with Eurosceptic MPs.

Theresa May is set to ask the EU for another Brexit extension (Getty)

What has Tusk said?

Mr Tusk, in a letter to the heads of the 27 remaining member states, said there was “little reason to believe” that the ratification of Mrs May’s beleaguered Brexit deal could be completed by the end of June.

He called for the European Council to discuss an alternative, longer extension, such as a “flexible extension” lasting “as long as necessary and no longer than one year”.

Mr Tusk wrote: “The flexibility would allow to terminate the extension automatically, as soon as both sides have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement.

European Council president Donald Tusk suggested that EU leaders grant the UK a longer extension of up to one year (Getty)

“The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready. And the EU27 would avoid repeated Brexit summits.

Mr Tusk also warned that “neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated at any stage in this difficult process”.

Mrs May met with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks (Getty)
The PM has held talks with EU leaders including French president Emmanuel Macron (PA)

‘Humiliating’ talks

Mr Tusk’s suggestions follows Mrs May’s whistle-stop tour on Tuesday of European capitals for talks with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds branded the talks “humiliating and embarrassing” for the UK, and claimed Britain was “effectively holding out a begging bowl to European leaders”.

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DUP leader Arlene Foster also questioned Mrs May’s leadership qualities, telling the BBC: “She needed to be strong, she needed to show leadership, and I’m sorry to say that hasn’t been evident in these past couple of months.”

Mrs Foster said the Prime Minister had found herself “pleading” to stay in the EU to resolve issues that should have been already settled.

Conservative rebels, including Dominic Raab, opposed a Brexit delay (Getty)

Tory revolt

On Tuesday evening MPs approved a Government motion for Mrs May to seek an extension to June 30 by 420 votes to 110, majority 310.

However, 97 Conservatives rebelled by opposing the plan – including former Brexit secretaries David Davis and Dominic Raab.

The key dates in the Article 50 process (PA)

Meanwhile, in a series of speeches at a meeting of the anti-Europe Bruges Group in Westminster there was also a warning that Europe was turning Britain from a Michelin-starred restaurant to one relying on microwave meals.

Mark Francois, the vice-chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit MPs, said people in the UK could not be “held captive against their will”.

Anger boiled over, with audience members shouting “f*** government” and repeatedly yelling “traitor!” at the mention of Theresa May.

Labour claimed the Government had not yet made a “clear shift” in its position in cross-party Brexit talks (Getty)

Labour talks

The mood between Tory and Labour over the talks to break the Brexit deadlock seems to be at opposite ends.

Downing Street said they had had “further productive and wide-ranging talks” but Labour said there had not yet been a “clear shift” in the Government’s position.

A spokeswoman said: “We have yet to see the clear shift in the Government’s position that is needed to secure a compromise agreement.

“We have agreed to hold further talks on Thursday in an effort to break the Brexit deadlock, and find a compromise that can win support in Parliament and bring the country together.”

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