As the Government fights to calm things down in Westminster after Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget, Theresa May has more than enough on her plate in Europe. She is off at what will almost certainly be her last European Union leader’s summit before triggering Article 50, and had to navigate a diplomatic showdown in Brussels.
European leaders are not arguing about Brexit just yet, as they have had to settle another argument over the re-election of Donald Tusk as president of the European Council. Poland’s government called for British support for a rival Polish candidate, who has almost no support from the other 26 members. This presented Mrs May with a delicate diplomatic dilemma: either support Poland and risk annoying major powers like France and Germany who want Mr Tusk back, or ignore Poland’s request and risk upsetting a potential ally in the upcoming Brexit talks. Mr Tusk has just been re-elected, reportedly with British support, so it suggests Mrs May resisted Poland’s demands.
In the meantime, Peter Foster has written about how there is one thing that unites the 27 EU nations – their opposition to Brexit. Britain may assume it can exploit the differences of opinion among EU partners to its advantage, but Foster isn’t so sure. “On past form, the risks of the opposite outcome must remain high. As one senior British official preparing for the negotiations confided recently, the biggest danger for Britain is this fractious European Union seeks to heal its differences by making Brexit the one issue on which they find common cause.”
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