France warns UK Prime Minister of tough time ahead in Brexit talks
France warned Britain at the start of a European Union summit on Thursday that it would face a tough, unyielding opponent if it sought too many concessions during its negotiations to leave the 28-nation EU.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who was attending her first EU summit as leader, was expected to brief her European counterparts on the way ahead for Britain’s exit from the trade bloc. Many uncertainties about the divorce remain because Britain has yet to trigger the two-year negotiations for “Brexit” and is unlikely to do so until the end of March.
“It’s in the interests of the UK and the EU that we continue to work closely together, including at this summit,” May said.
French President Francois Hollande immediately insisted that the EU would not surrender the bloc’s core values just to keep Britain close as a future ally.
“I have said so very firmly: Mrs. Theresa May wants a hard Brexit? The negotiations will be hard,” Holland said.
Britain’s June 23 breakup referendum has forced the 27 other nations to plot their future without a major but often recalcitrant member state. European leaders have grumbled that Britain’s tardiness in starting the negotiations slow down their own planning for the next few years.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the other leaders would underscore the urgency and would “make clear again: We are waiting for the notification from Britain.”