This Was The Week Everyone Had Their Say on Brexit
The Brexit debate came to life again this week as U.K. parliamentarians returned to work. As British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to get negotiations with the European Union back on track and pass key legislation at home, she found herself under fire on all fronts.
It was a week full of colorful and inflammatory statements from key players in an increasingly tense drama.
The Brussels Aide
Martin Selmayr, an outspoken chief of staff to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, didn’t hold back at a Brussels conference. “Brexit is bad, and it’s a stupid decision,” he said.
“The only people who can reverse it would be the British people and I am not a dreamer, I am a realist. Brexit will happen on March 29, 2019.”
Angela Merkel’s Right-Hand Man
Wolfgang Schaeuble added to the pressure.
“Brexit was a decision that we think was wrong from every angle,” the German finance minister said. “But the Britons made it, and now we must try to find solutions that will keep the damage to both sides as limited as possible.”
The Chief EU Negotiator
Michel Barnier is the man leading talks for the EU team. He spoke out this week against the U.K.’s position papers and negotiating stance.
“The U.K. needs to tell us what it wants, and we will see what is possible—what is acceptable—while respecting the rules determining the way in which the single market works,” he said.
The Pro-Brexit Conservatives
A group of Brexit-backing Tory MPs, the European Research Group, circulated a draft letter calling on the government to leave the EU without a transitional period.“We cannot allow our country to be kept in the EU by stealth.”
The Labour Party Brexit Spokesman
Keir Starmer, a former chief prosecutor, criticized the repeal bill’s so-called “Henry VIII” provisions, which would allow the government to amend imported EU regulations without returning to the House of Commons.
“So much for taking back control,” Starmer told the House.
Conservative Lawmaker John Redwood
Redwood, a veteran Euroskeptic and pro-Brexit lawmaker, took the opposite view.
“I am getting exactly the piece of legislation I wanted and it does restore parliamentary democracy,” he said.
British Brexit Secretary
“Nobody has ever promised this will be simple or easy,” David Davis said. “There will be times when it is very stormy.”