Britain's 'Madame Brexit' tells Poland: Your constitution is your own matter

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2017 10:34 AM

By Marcin Goclowski

WARSAW (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May gave Poland a rare dose of big power support on Thursday by saying that its constitution was its own affair, a sharply different tone to that of the European Union which has scolded Warsaw over judicial reforms.

The EU executive launched an unprecedented action against Poland on Wednesday, calling on other member states to prepare to sanction Warsaw if it fails to reverse judicial reforms that Brussels says pose a threat to democracy.

When asked about the Commission's move to deploy the "nuclear option" under Article 7 of the 2009 Lisbon treaty, May said: "These constitutional issues are normally, and should be primarily a matter for the individual country concerned."

Speaking alongside Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw, May said: "Across Europe we have collective belief in the rule of law."

"I welcome the fact that Prime Minister Morawiecki has indicated that he will be speaking with the European Commission and I hope that that will lead to a satisfactory resolution."

At one point, a translator's slip made Morawiecki's appear to call May "Madame Brexit", though in fact he said in Polish: "as madam PM said, Brexit is Brexit".

Voicing frustration after two years of fruitless requests to the right-wing government, the European Commission has given the socially conservative Law and Justice party in Warsaw three months to change tack.

But Poland fired back defiantly and was reassured that like-minded allies in Hungary would veto the ultimate sanction of suspending Poland's voting rights in the bloc.

Morawiecki said he hoped France and Germany were aiming to work out the best solution with Britain as it leaves the EU

"I have deep hopes and conviction that our French and German partners aim to work out the best solution in this new, not easy situation that we are in with respect to Brexit," Morawiecki said.

(Additional reporting by William James in London; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)