Theresa May is unconcerned that the 27 other EU leaders are excluding her from a dinner after a European council meeting, Downing Street has said.
May’s official spokeswoman said the leaders would have an informal discussion on Brexit on Thursday evening, rather than talking about general business that might affect the UK before it leaves.
She said the prime minister’s exclusion was not a cause for concern, despite May’s insistence at the last summit in October that the UK “will continue to play a full role until we leave”.
“Our view on this is that the UK is leaving the European Union,” the No 10 spokeswoman said. “We have been taking the time to prepare for the negotiations because we want a smooth and orderly departure. Those remaining in the EU also need to have discussions about how they are going to handle the departure process. That is reasonable. We would expect that.”
May’s exclusion was made possible because council president Donald Tusk has changed the format of EU summits.
They usually start on Thursday afternoons, go late into the night and conclude on Friday mornings.
However, this council meeting will start earlier on Thursday and finish by the evening. May will give a press conference before returning to the UK, while the other leaders discuss Brexit over dinner.
The other EU leaders are informally discussing Brexit despite the European commission ban on the UK or other nations beginning any preliminary negotiations until article 50 is triggered.
May’s spokeswoman said the discussions were allowed because they were informal and that the prime minister had held her own talks with individual leaders across Europe since she became prime minister.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Monday 12th December 2016 14.53 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010