Theresa May meets with Dutch PM Mark Rutte in The Hague
Theresa May will be told on her European tour to stop trying to appease her mutinous backbenches by throwing them the “red meat” of Brexit promises she can never deliver upon, EU diplomatic sources have told The Telegraph.
As Mrs May embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the EU, including the Netherlands, Germany and Brussels, diplomats expressed growing exasperation at Mrs May’s constant attempts to placate the impossible demands of clean-break Brexiteers with unrealistic promises. The message will be the same one Mrs May received from Europe over the weekend, when the Telegraph understands Mrs May was directly warned against feeding unreasonable expectations. “She was told ‘don’t keep feeding them red meat. We know how this ends. You get eaten up last,” said a senior EU diplomat. The uncompromising tone comes as Mrs May seeks a “legally binding assurance” that the UK will not be trapped indefinitely in the Irish backstop arrangement that puts the UK into a customs union with the EU to avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland. After Mrs May pulled today’s the ‘meaningful vote’ in the Commons, the race is now on to secure concessions from Europe that might convince opponents of the deal to change their minds, particularly on the question of the Irish backstop.
Government parties Christian Democrats and Democrats 1966 want new elections when VVD Prime Minister Mark Rutte leaves next year mid-term to Brussels for a European top function. That means high-ranking sources in the coalition. As far as the two largest government partners of Rutte are concerned, a mid-term departure would not be without consequences. Then the cabinet falls, they warn. “Theoretically, new elections are not necessary. But it would be undesirable to do such a major intervention in the cabinet without elections”, says a high ranking D66 member. A high-ranking CDA member of the coalition is certainly: “If Rutte goes to Brussels, there will certainly be elections. This is what Rutte also realizes, so he will think three times. But the pressure from 27 countries can be so great that there is no other option.”
About he future of Rutte has been speculations for months. After the European elections of next spring, the post of President of the European Commission will be vacant. It is now being filled by Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker. Rutte is also tipped to succeed Donald Tusk as President of the European Union at the end of next year.
Longest-serving government leader
That Rutte’s name always pops up is because he is one of the longest-serving government leaders in the EU. Moreover, he has a lot of experience in closing complex coalitions. Something that the union, which is sometimes divided to the bone, desperately needs. Rutte himself has said on several occasions that there is no question of traveling to Brussels for a top job. ,,I am finishing this period and see if I am available again for a new period”, said Rutte last spring. There is a struggle between the European Parliament and the EU heads of government on the follow-up of Juncker. The parliament thinks that one of the so-called ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ (list leaders in the European elections) should get this position. The government leaders themselves want to keep a finger on the composition of the daily management of the union in Brussels.