Theresa May urged to address European Parliament after snub

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Theresa May was today urged to rethink her snub to MEPs and publicly address the European parliament over exit talks.

The institution’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said it is in the Prime Minister’s interests to drop plans to speak to political leaders from the chamber only in private.

The questions of citizens’ rights, the divorce bill and the Irish border “needs to be debated in an open dialogue” with all members, he said on Tuesday.

“On Brexit, I am very pleased that Mrs May has accepted the invitation of the European Parliament to come to the European Parliament,” Mr Verhofstadt told a news conference at the parliament in Strasbourg.

May had accepted an invitation from the parliament to speak at a meeting of the heads of party groupings, he said.

“But my proposal is that instead of only addressing the conference of presidents, I would encourage her to address the full house,” Verhofstadt said.

He added that May’s address would be very helpful because the parliament had to give its approval to a Brexit agreement between the EU and Britain.

“So in the future, all this, I think needs to be debated in an open dialogue between Mrs. May and all members,” Verhofstadt said, adding he did not know when May planned to visit.

He pointed out that other leaders, including Ronald Reagan, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 1992,  had done so in the past.

The parliament’s Brexit coordinator also said that, for the moment, negotiations had not made sufficient progress on the divorce issues to allow talks to move to the subject of future trade relations between Britain and the bloc.

He added that the parliament would debate a motion in early October on whether enough progress had been made.

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