Leaders of Britain’s six largest political parties have said they will gather in Brussels for the first face to face meeting since Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will be the head of the EU Council, which will have a greater say over Brexit negotiations than the European Parliament, the body that will ultimately decide whether Britain should remain part of the bloc.
It is expected that Juncker, who has become an increasingly influential voice in the Brexit debate, will stress the need for a hard Brexit, the idea that Britain should leave the bloc if it wants to continue participating in it.
The EU is set to meet in Brussels on Wednesday for a second day to discuss the EU’s Brexit plan, which is due to be presented to the European Council in a few days time.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, is to meet Juncker on Thursday to discuss Brexit and how the bloc is managing Brexit talks, but the prime minister’s office has said he will not be attending.
Johnson’s office said he is in Rome for a meeting of the G20 group of leading economies.
It said he has been told that the prime ministers meeting will not take place in the capital but will take place at a hotel near the Vatican.
Johnson, who was a leading Brexit campaigner, is widely seen as the key to Brexit negotiations.
He has also clashed with his predecessor as prime minister and is regarded as being the more moderate candidate.
His administration has also faced criticism from European Union leaders for its handling of Brexit negotiations, with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warning that Britain is “playing games” and ignoring the interests of the European people.
Johnson has been criticised for being “in denial” about the impact of Brexit on the UK, saying that it is a “political decision” for the UK.
He said on Wednesday: “I think the British people have made a very good decision to leave.
The British people can do with the rest of the world what they will.”
British PM Boris Johnson has been widely seen to be a key player in the EU referendum debate.
His predecessor, David Cameron, had called the referendum a “one-off” in which he did not know if the UK would remain in the bloc, but Johnson has insisted the country should remain in Europe and insisted Britain will remain a member of the single market.