Guy Verhofstadt to meet Theresa May, David Davis, David Lidington and Amber Rudd as government receives fresh warning over mutual recognition plans

Catherine Neilan
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Verhofstadt's in town (Source: Getty)

European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt is to meet with a number of senior ministers today - following a fresh warning for Theresa May that her proposals for mutual recognition in financial services could fail.

The Dutch politician will have meetings with Brexit secretary David Davis and Cabinet Office minister David Lidington in Downing Street this morning. May and her home secretary Amber Rudd are expected to drop in while the meetings are taking place.

A spokesman for Number 10 said the meetings were part of regular engagement, which is being carried out with high profile figures across the EU. He pointed to last autumn's meeting with Manfred Weber, a key ally of Angela Merkel, as an example.

The visit comes ahead of the vote by European Parliament on the future EU-UK relationship, which will take place in Strasbourg next week.

Verhofstadt has been vocal about his criticisms of the UK government's approach to Brexit negotiations so far, not least when it comes to citizens' rights. Following May's speech last week, he issued a statement saying she "needed to move beyond vague aspirations".

He added: "While I welcome the call for a deep & special partnership, this cannot be achieved by putting a few extra cherries on the Brexit cake."

It is expected the speech will feature prominently in their discussions today.

The meeting comes just hours after Stefaan De Rynck, senior adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, warned that mutual recognition may not be a viable option for the future trading relationship after Brexit.

Speaking at a London School of Economics event last night De Rynck said: “The EU has moved away in the wake of the financial crisis from mutual recognition of national standards to a centralised approach with a single EU rule book and common enforcement structures and single supervisory structures.”

In response to suggestions that Barnier's draft legal text published last week sought to impose a border in Ireland, De Rynck said, “Who is asking for a border? Brexit is asking for a border."

He added that this fall back was necessary, saying it would have been “complacent for the EU to leave such a sensitive issue as a backstop solution to the very last moment of the negotiations.”

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