British Prime Minister Theresa May is busy sounding out European leaders about how to tackle Brexit negotiations and may have noticed some are prepared to offer a better deal than expected.
Since taking over at Number 10, May and her cabinet colleagues have called or dropped in on many European Union leaders to gauge how Brexit talks might proceed.
Although some – like President Hollande in France – believe they call the shots and are demanding May triggers Article 50 so official negotiations can start in earnest, May is determined not to press the leave button until after Christmas.
She wants time to put her team together. Already, 30 ‘directors’ have been appointed in the Brexit unit and 300 negotiators are needed to carry out the face to face talking.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Britain leaving the EU will happen, but she is ready to come to an agreement that will be in the best interests of both nations.
“Now we must negotiate on the basis of our interests. And ‘negotiate’ means, above all, strengthening common projects,” she said.
German Foreign Minister Michael Roth also seems on the side of appeasing Britain in Brexit talks.
He hinted that any deal for Britain will be more cordial and go further than agreements with other European countries, such as Norway and Switzerland, which had not been EU members.
He suggested a special relationship with Britain was more than possible, although one topic that will be difficult to broker would be dropping freedom of movement for EU citizens in return for access to the single market.
“I want relations between the European Union and Britain to be as close as possible,” said Roth.
“Given Britain’s size, significance and its long membership of the European Union, there will probably be a special status which only bears limited comparison to that of countries that have never belonged to the European Union.”
Merkel is also urging the remaining EU states after Brexit to consider policy decisions more carefully and to avoid disagreements that could lead to other members leaving the EU.
“This is a phase of listening and understanding to develop a new balance within the EU,” she said.