Poland calls for some ‘give’ from Brussels on May’s deal
Senior EU minister makes intervention after hopes of last-minute compromise on backstop are dashed
A SENIOR EU minister has broken ranks over Brussels’ refusal to offer concessions to help salvage Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Speaking on a visit to London, Anna Maria Anders, the Polish secretary of state for international dialogue, said the ongoing uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the bloc was a “disaster for everybody” and called for some “give” from Brussels.
Ms Anders, who has studied and worked in the UK, also described the prospect of a second referendum as the “worst scenario, because we start all over again”.
Her intervention, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, comes after EU officials insisted they would offer no compromises to help Mrs May’s deal gain the approval of MPs.
On Friday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said: “This is our final offer. We can add clarifications but we will not renegotiate. The choice is: accept or reject it.”
But Ms Anders said: “I think a little bit of give on Brussels’ part would be good. The problem with Brussels and the EU generally is the fact it is so different to the way it was when Britain first joined the EU.
“I think the bureaucracy in Brussels has become a real issue … Right now they are refusing to compromise. Frankly, I just wish that we would get on with it.
“This period of uncertainty is a disaster. It is a disaster for everybody. It has weakened the leadership in this country terribly and people want to move on.”
MPs are expecting an “exchange of letters” between Downing Street and Brussels tomorrow, which is designed to help allay fears the deal could leave the UK trapped in the EU’s customs union. However, Mr Juncker’s comments appear to confirm the correspondence will simply restate “ambitions” that the so-called backstop arrangement will end after a year, rather than offer any fresh concessions such as an end date or unilateral exit mechanism for the UK.
Mrs Anders’s intervention suggests some EU states could put pressure on the commission to go further if Mrs May’s deal is voted down this week. It comes after Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, told The Telegraph last month that he was disappointed by the “rather unfortunate behaviour” of senior EU officials such as Mr Juncker, who had suggested Mrs May was being “nebulous” at a crunch summit.
Ms Anders, a Polish senator, said the UK’s departure was “not going to be great for Poland” because it would
‘I hope it doesn’t come to another referendum. That’s the worst scenario, because we start all over again’
“weaken the European Union”. But she warned against a re-run of the 2016 vote, stating: “I hope it doesn’t come to another referendum. I think that probably is the worst scenario, because we start all over again. I hope that we can manage to reach some sort of a deal.”
Ms Anders said Poland’s primary concern was for the rights of its citizens living in the UK, although she said Mrs May had indicated that they would be “taken care of ” in any scenario.
But she also disclosed that Poland now wanted to draw expats back from the UK, highlighting the country’s improving economy as a factor that could encourage citizens to return. Last year, Poland became the first country from Central and Eastern Europe to be ranked a “developed market” on the FTSE Russell index.
“As a Polish politician who is trying to push Poland forward, it is my dream that a lot of those Polish people here in the UK will go back to Poland,” Ms Anders said.
“Better-paying jobs in Poland would enable people to come back.”