BRUSSELS – British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday that she would not seek reelection, announcing the announcement while she was traveling to Brussels to try to convince her fellow European Union leaders of the European Union. to relax the conditions for the departure of Great Britain from the bloc.
Hours after she survived She told the press in Brussels that she had agreed to withdraw before the 2022 elections in the United Kingdom, a prerequisite for obtaining support to oversee the departure of the country from the European Union.
"In my heart, I would like to be able to lead the Conservative Party in the next general election, but I think it's just that the party thinks it would prefer to embark on this path with a new leader, "said May way to the summit in Brussels.
"My goal now is to be able to obtain the assurances necessary to conclude this agreement, because I sincerely believe that it is in the interest of both sides, the United Kingdom and the European Union, to enter into an agreement on this line, to accept an agreement. "
The two sides appeared deadlocked, with the Europeans declaring themselves ready to give everything away, except what May wanted exactly: to give legal reassurances that Britain would not be permanently locked up in a sort of small bourgeoisie. members, subject to many rules, but unable to influence its decision-making process.
And EU Leaders watching political chaos engulf Britain planned to intensify its own emergency preparations in case Britain withdrew from the European Union on March 29 without having to go to the polls. an agreement is reached. Diplomats claim to believe that this is increasingly likely, as the British Parliament seems paralyzed by fragmentation, with no clear majority for a single action while time is running out. membership.
May met with European Council President Donald Tusk and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday before the summit began, as she continued to press for language that could convince her remaining lower Brexiteer deputies, who have the feeling that she has not negotiated a sufficiently broad separation from the EU
But Europeans reiterated on Thursday that few fundamental changes were possible, although many welcomed May's political survival as the key to their ability to reach an agreement with Britain.
"At least total chaos has been avoided," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Germany's Deutschlandfunk. He said that US leaders were eager to hear proposals from Britain on what could help produce a Brexit deal that will be passed in the UK Parliament. But he warned that there was little room to reopen the current contract.
In Brussels, the leaders said they wanted to help May but did not know how.
"Nobody in the European Union really wants to trigger the reinforcement, because it's bad news for the UK, but also for Europe," said the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, en route to the meeting. "Today, it is demystifying."
May emerged from Wednesday's vote of confidence, beaten, but in the lead. Under the Conservative Party rules, she can no longer face another internal party effort to remove her for a year. But the 200-to-117 vote of the parties brought to light the deep-seated anger among the conservative ranks and failed to determine whether any Brexit deal proposed by the unpopular ruler could carry Parliament.
Uncertainty about the future of May has only strengthened the determination of EU They need absolute guarantees for future relations between Britain and the rest of the European Union as a contingency plan .
If the two parties can not conclude an acceptable trade agreement before the end of Britain's two-year transition period, the current agreement would keep it in the EU. The customs union in order to avoid a hard border between Ireland, which remains in the European Union, and Northern Ireland, which departs with the rest of the Kingdom -United. Both sides fear a resumption of the North-Ireland conflict that has lasted for several decades if border infrastructure increases.
May is seeking legal assurances that Britain would not remain indefinitely in the Customs Union. European leaders say that they can only repeat what they have already said: they will make a good faith effort to avoid it. And although the political chaos in London makes EU negotiators worried that no agreement is possible, the diplomats are also wary of making concessions that lead nowhere in Britain, as it has done. already produced several times with Prime Minister David Cameron before the 2016 Brexit vote
"It sounds a bit like when Cameron came here to get major concessions that did not even last 10 minutes in London," said a senior US section official. diplomat Thursday, expressing on condition of anonymity to discuss preparations for the summit.
"Obviously, Theresa May has to tell us what could help. If she says that a political text, without any legal commitment, will not be useful, then we have a big problem, "said the diplomat.
Quentin Ariès contributed to this report.