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May back to Brussels on Saturday for last-ditch Brexit talks

London, United Kingdom | AFP | British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would return to Brussels for further EU divorce talks on Saturday — 24 hours ahead of a planned summit set to seal a Brexit deal.

May made a lightning trip to Brussels on Wednesday to lobby EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, but left with the planned Brexit deal signing summit still in the balance.

Negotiators are hammering out details of a political statement on future UK-EU ties that will accompany the divorce deal, under pressure to put it together before member states’ top diplomats meet on Friday.

“There are some remaining issues which we have discussed this evening,” May said after talks with Juncker.

“We’ve been able to give direction to our negotiators on resolving these issues, so further progress has been made,” she said, in a clip from Brussels aired by British broadcasters.

“I’ll be returning on Saturday for further meetings, including again with President Juncker, to discuss how we can ensure that we can conclude this process in a way that is in the interests of all our people.

“There are some further issues that need resolution. We’ve given direction to our negotiators this evening.

“The work on those issues will now start immediately.

“I believe we’ve given sufficient direction for them to be able to resolve those issues.”

The withdrawal treaty itself is all but finalised, and preparations are underway for Sunday’s summit to sign it, but there remains the matter of the parallel 20-page political declaration on future relations.

Neither side has much wiggle room left to polish the text.

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