EU Parliament's Brexit coordinator urges May to address chamber

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2017 5:46 AM

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May should address the European Parliament when she visits the EU legislature to clarify Britain's plans for its divorce from the European Union, the parliament's Brexit coordinator said on Tuesday.

"On Brexit, I’m very pleased that Mrs. May has accepted the invitation of the European Parliament to come to the European Parliament," Guy 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.

Verhofstadt said a May address would be very helpful because the parliament had to give its approval to a Brexit agreement between the EU and Britain, notably on the question of citizens' rights, a divorce bill and the future Ireland/Northern Ireland border.

"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.

Verhofstadt pointed out that other leaders had done so in the past. They have included former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as Britain's Queen Elizabeth in 1992 and two popes.

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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 issue 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.

(Reporting by Lily Cusack, writing by Philip Blenkinsop)