Liz Truss pulls off Brexit blinder! EU charmed by MP – much stronger than Lord Frost
Boris Johnson appears to be reassured by Liz Truss after PMQs
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The UK Foreign Minister, now in charge of Brexit talks with Brussels, has “charmed” EU negotiators last week and will soon meet EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic for further talks, according to an EU insider.
Managing Director of Eurasia Group, Mujtaba Rahman, claimed EU officials were pleasantly impressed by Ms Truss last week and are prepared to make more concessions to the UK after David Frost’s failed negotiations.
He said: “For those who still care about UK/EU relations, the EU side admits to being ‘charmed’ by Liz Truss last week.
“She will now meet Maros Sefcovic in Brussels next Monday.
“Despite – or because of – the madness in Westminster, things are looking up for UK/EU.
“Truss has already markedly improved atmospherics. No small thing after the belligerence of David Frost.
“She’s seen as having much stronger interpersonal skills. Fact she invited Sefcovic to Chevening for 1.5 days in middle of Russia/Ukraine crisis in restricted format was not lost on EU.”
He continued: “Question for EU is impact this will have on substance. There were no real negotiations last week. But focus of talks – E-W trade, customs, SPS – already indicative of diff approach. Truss unlikely to re-litigate constitutional questions over ECJ or demand its removal from the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Yes this is a demand of hardline Brexiteers & DUP. But UK sources concede there is little pressure on the issue from the public or businesses in NI. It was elevated by Frost to create pre-text for triggering A16. With political & economic mess in UK, no appetite for A16 anymore.
“EU understands Truss will have to win some concessions from Brussels she can sell to ERG – something they want/will try to accommodate. But senior EU officials also clear this more likely to come from tweaks & clarification to concessions already tabled in October – not big new package.
“Although Truss is bringing more respect, sensitivity, pragmatism & engagement to the brief, she isn’t starting from a blank sheet of paper. There’s a long history of negotiations, treaty commitments UKG has made & legal action Commission won’t be able to suspend forever.
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“Truss’ challenge then, will be to make a much better job of selling in a more positive & pro-active way what’s already on table to Tory MPs. This is something Frost never ever did – his style was to always demand more, on grounds that anything else would look like weakness.
“This is difficult but given Truss’ determination & presentational skills, not impossible. I understand Truss left Chevening convinced a deal cd be done. She seems to have concluded that ‘getting Brexit done’ is a better political play for her than ongoing conflict with EU.”
Boris Johnson was fighting to shore up his premiership on Wednesday amid a revolt by his own MPs who are angry over a series of lockdown parties in Downing Street.
Propelled into the top job to “get Brexit done”, Mr Johnson in 2019 won his party’s biggest majority in more than 30 years but now faces calls to resign after a series of revelations about parties in Downing Street – the prime ministers’ home and office – during COVID lockdowns.
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Mr Johnson has repeatedly apologised for the parties and said that he was unaware of many of them.
However, he attended what he said he thought was a work event on May 20, 2020 which revellers had been told to “bring their own booze”.
To trigger a leadership challenge, 54 of the 360 Conservative MPs in parliament must write letters of no confidence to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee.
As many as 20 Conservative lawmakers who won their seats at the last national election in 2019 plan to submit letters of no confidence in Johnson, the Telegraph reported.
A handful of others have already said they had written such letters.
“Group of 2019 MPs to submit letters to try to hit threshold of 54 to trigger a contest,” BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter. “They might hit 54.”
An analysis by The Times newspaper showed that 58 Conservative lawmakers had openly criticised the prime minister.
Toppling Mr Johnson would leave the United Kingdom in limbo for months just as the West deals with the Ukraine crisis and the world’s fifth largest economy grapples with the inflationary wave triggered by the COVID pandemic, with UK inflation rising to the highest level in nearly 30 years.
Leading rivals within the Conservative Party include Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, 41, and Liz Truss, 46.
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