Theresa May heads to France as Brexit talks go south

Vacation's over for Theresa May as she pivots to save her Brexit plans, her party and her political career.
August 9, 2018, 4:02pm

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is pulling the plug on her Italian summer holiday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in a last-ditch attempt to save her sinking Brexit deal.

The heads of state will meet at Macron’s summer retreat in the South of France.

The crunch-time talks come over a week after the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, rejected May’s latest proposal for how Brexit would work. Since then, she’s been on a mission to redeem the negotiations that sent her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit point man David Davis packing and tore her party apart.


To that end, she met with the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic, and Estonia last Friday, and is sending ministers on abrupt trips to Germany, Spain and Italy.

But France seems to be the main focus of her attention: She's sent four of her senior ministers there in the last week, and is now missing out on much-needed holiday time to plead with Macron himself.

So why France? Because Macron has a direct line to Barnier and influence over the EU commission.

“Michel Barnier has had a very tough line and he's taking his directions from France and Germany, and Theresa May's plan is to try and undercut the European Commission,” says John Springford, a Brexit expert at the Center of European Reform.

With the March 19th deadline creeping closer and a no-deal scenario seeming more and more likely, May will have to rack up the air miles if she has any hope of saving her Brexit plans, her party — and her political career.

This segment originally aired August 2, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.