Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | ePaper

EU willing to renegotiate Brexit deal, says UK FM

  • Print


Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is one of 11 Conservative MPs looking to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister.



British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, a contender to replace Theresa May as prime minister, said Sunday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had indicated the EU would be willing to renegotiate the Brexit divorce deal.
Hunt, one of nearly a dozen Conservatives vying to succeed May after she resigned as party leader Friday, said he spoke with Merkel at this week's D-Day commemorations and was convinced changing May's agreement was possible.
"She said that of course with a new British prime minister we would want to look at any solutions you have," he told Sky News.
"I'm absolutely clear that if we take the right approach to this, the Europeans would be willing to negotiate on the package."
Hunt did not specify if he was referring to the legally binding withdrawal agreement, which the EU has repeatedly insisted cannot be re-opened, or to the accompanying political declaration on future relations, which could be revisited.
May agreed the package with the EU last year but British lawmakers rejected it three times, forcing her to delay Brexit twice - the latest extension being to October 31.
A controversial provision in the agreement for the Irish border, known as the backstop, has proved the key stumbling block.
It would prevent the return of border checks between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if the sides fail to agree a free trade pact after an initial transition period.
Hunt claimed Merkel had signalled EU leaders may now be open to a technological solution to the thorny issue - something Brussels has previously ruled out as unrealistic.
"She said to me 'Germany doesn't have that border with the Republic of Ireland, you do… so you need to come up with the solution'," he said of their conversation.
"So it's going to be a solution that's based around some technologies -what the Germans call intelligent border(s). I think that's doable."
A German government spokeswoman said it does not comment on "the contents of confidential conversations with the chancellor".
However, she noted comments from Merkel following a European Council meeting in April "which remains valid".
"We have once again made clear that the exit agreement applies, that it will not be changed, and that we can certainly talk about future relations," her statement said.
·May stepped down as Conservative Party leader Friday and formally triggered the race for a successor - currently being contested by 11 Tory MPs - but will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen.
The leader of the party, which won the most seats at the last general election in 2017, will almost certainly become prime minister.
The Brexit-dominated battle is expected to conclude by the end of next month, with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson considered the clear frontrunner.
Johnson said in an interview published Sunday that he would refuse to pay Britain's divorce bill until the EU agreed better withdrawal terms.
The former London mayor also signalled he would scrap the unpopular backstop and try to settle the border issue once London and Brussels were negotiating their future relationship.
"Our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward," he told The Sunday Times.
"In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant," Johnson added, in his first newspaper interview since launching his bid to become Britain's next premier.
A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron told AFP that a refusal by Britain to pay its Brexit bill would be viewed as the country defaulting on its debts.
"Not honouring payment obligations is a breach of international commitment equivalent to a default on its sovereign debt, with the consequences that we know," the source said.
·    'Sense of regret' -

In a boost to his campaign, several cabinet members this weekend joined a
growing number of centrist Tory MPs in declaring their support for him.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, however, announced in a tweet on Sunday that she was backing Hunt for leader.
And Home Secretary Sajid Javid, another leadership candidate, has also picked up some key endorsements and this weekend won the backing of popular Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Michael Gove faced turmoil in his campaign after he admitted to using cocaine "on several occasions at social events" two decades ago.
"I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do," he told the BBC on Sunday.
The former justice minister has faced accusations of hypocrisy for having continually supported tough drug laws.
A former senior drug adviser to the government warned the admission could see him barred from entering the United States under its strict anti-drugs immigration laws.
Gove tried to turn the conversation back to policy by announcing he would radically reform a key sales tax in Britain if he became prime minister.  Environment Minister Michael Gove faced turmoil in his campaign after he admitted to using cocaine "on several occasions at social events" two decades ago.
"I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do," Mr Gove told the BBC on Sunday.
The former justice minister has been accused of hypocrisy for continually supporting tough drug laws.
Meanwhile, a former senior drug adviser to the government warned that the admission could mean Mr Gove is barred from entering the US under its strict anti-drugs immigration laws.

More News For this Category

Memes, cartoons and caustic Cantonese: the language of Hong Kong's protests

Memes, cartoons and caustic Cantonese: the language of Hong Kong's protests

AFP :Viral artwork pummelling city leaders, clever word plays and Cantonese cursing that would make a sailor blush-Hong Kongers have displayed a characteristically riotous embrace of satire during their huge

Vietnam jails US national for 'state overthrow plot'

Vietnam jails US national for 'state overthrow plot'

A court in Vietnam has sentenced a US citizen to 12 years in prison after finding him guilty of attempting to "overthrow the state".Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, 55, had admitted

Saudi women use wedding contracts to assert right to drive

Saudi women use wedding contracts to assert right to drive

AFP, Dammam :Saudi salesman Majd had just begun his wedding preparations when his fiancee sought to enshrine in their marriage contract a condition already guaranteed by law-her right to drive.Wedding

Iran denies US cyber attack ahead of new sanctions

Iran denies US cyber attack ahead of new sanctions

AFP  :Iran denied Monday it was hit by a US cyber attack as Washington was due to tighten sanctions on Tehran in a standoff sparked by the US withdrawal from

Mike Pompeo Arrives In Saudi Arabia For Iran crisis talk

AFP, Jeddah: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia for talks on coordinating with the close ally amid mounting tensions with Iran.Pompeo is expected to meet

Turkey opposition deals blow to Erdogan in Istanbul win

Turkey opposition deals blow to Erdogan in Istanbul win

AFP  :Turkey's opposition revelled Monday in a landslide win in Istanbul's re-run mayoral vote-a blow for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that even some pro-government media called a victory for democracy.Ekrem

Trump's son-in-law's economic plan for ME peace faces Arab rejection

Trump's son-in-law's economic plan for ME peace faces Arab rejection

Reuters, Riyadh :US President Donald Trump's economic vision as part of the wider plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was met with contempt, repudiation and exasperation in the Arab world,

UK's Boris Johnson under pressure to explain domestic 'row'

UK's Boris Johnson under pressure to explain domestic 'row'

Boris Johnson, the strong favourite to become Britain's next prime minister, came under pressure from figures in his own party on Sunday to explain reports of a domestic 'row' that

North Korean leader receives 'excellent' letter from Trump: KCNA

North Korean leader receives 'excellent' letter from Trump: KCNA

AFP, Seoul :North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received a personal letter of "excellent content" from US President Donald Trump, the country's state media said Sunday, amid a nuclear deadlock

US conducted cyber attack on Iran in response to drone downing: Report

US conducted cyber attack on Iran in response to drone downing: Report

The United States launched cyber attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone, according to US media reports.US president Donald Trump