Theresa May: The ball is in EU's court - and we will prove Brexit doomsayers wrong

Catherine Neilan
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Theresa May Makes Commons Statement On Brexit
Source: Getty

The embattled Prime Minister will today tell MPs that "the ball in their court" when it comes to Brexit, pushing the responsibility to act back onto the shoulders of EU leaders.

Theresa May, who has fought off the cold that plagued her keynote conference speech in Manchester, and a short-lived rebellion by former party chairman Grant Shapps, but not yet banished rumours of a cabinet reshuffle involving some of her most senior ministers, will insist the UK can get a deal that will "prove the doomsayers wrong".

In her first Brexit update to the House of Commons since giving her speech in Florence, she will strike a positive tone, saying: "A new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

“Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

“And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but also the best possible deal for our European friends too.

“So while of course progress will not always be smooth, by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way – in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future – I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong.

“And I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.”

May's speech this afternoon comes at the start of the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels. Brexit secretary David Davis is currently in London, but is expected to offer an update on the state of play this Thursday, alongside his EU counterpart Michel Barnier.

It is widely hoped that, following on from May's Florence speech and the generally encouraging response from some EU leaders, enough progress can be made for the two sides to start discussing trade and transition, although expectations have been played down.

The government is expected to publish two white papers - setting out how customs and trade might work after Brexit - following the Prime Minister's statement.

May is this afternoon also hosting a business council, with executives from HSBC, Vodafone and Morgan Stanley among the attendees.

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