Video shows Juncker and May in tense exchange ahead of second day of summit
PUBLISHED: 10:38 14 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:17 14 December 2018
Disagreement between Theresa May and Jean Claude-Juncker appeared to spill out into the public on the second day of the latest EU summit.
A video seems to show the pair disagreeing while the cameras were rolling just before talks continued.
Theresa May went to Brussels seeking a way to get the Withdrawal Agreement through a heavily divided Commons, insisting she could do it but had to be able to convince MPs the UK would not find itself tied to the EU indefinitely through the Northern Ireland “backstop”.
She urged EU leaders join her to “work together intensively to get this deal over the line in the best interests of all our people”.
But after listening to her appeal, European Council president Donald Tusk said EU leaders had reaffirmed their determination that there could be no renegotiation.
He said they had expressed a “firm determination” to work “speedily” to ensure that there was an agreement on the future relationship in place by the time the transition period ends in December 2020, so the backstop was not needed.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker went further and criticised May’s lack of clarity over what she was seeking from the future relationship.
“Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want,” he said.
“So we would like, within a few weeks, our UK friends to set out their expectations for us because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications.”
He added: “We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear. We can add clarifications but no real changes.
“There will be no legally binding obligations imposed on the withdrawal treaty.”
The EU hardball approach appears to leave May with limited room for manoeuvre during the countdown to the UK’s departure on March 29.