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Theresa May has made an 'unforgivable mistake' over Brexit, says former EU trade negotiator Miriam González Durántez

Theresa May has made an 'unforgivable' mistake in her negotiations with the European Union which has weakened Britain unnecessarily, former EU trade negotiator Miriam González Durántez has told ITV News.

On Monday, Mrs May updated MPs on the negotiations, saying she believed a deal was still within reach. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called her statement 'groundhog day.'

Ms González Durántez, an international trade lawyer, said she believes the prime minister has made "two very fundamental mistakes" over Brexit which the country is "paying the consequences for".

"In political terms, giving the Article 50 notice without knowing...what she wanted to do in terms with the relationship with the European Union, that was a by the book mistake. That really was unforgivable and it has weakened this country to a point where it wasn't necessary at all. We could have done this negotiation from more of a position of strength, and that is her own doing and that is her responsibility and at some point she will have to pay the bill for doing that."

"What is much more important...instead of trying to bring the country together, she stood there by the door of Number 10 and she basically said to half of this country, that not only they even have the right to think differently but they couldn't even say it, that kind of silencing."

"I am disappointed I have waited my whole life...to see women in power so that they would do politics differently and it wouldn't be so tribal, it would bring people together, all the things we always say: 'women have this emotional intelligence, women negotiate more'...[here] was an example as to how this doesn't really depend on gender."

"Two years on, this country continues to [be] divided".

Theresa May is heading to Brussels for a key EU summit Credit: PA

Theresa May will travel to Brussels on Wednesday for a key EU summit on Brexit.

Ms González Durántez, who was born in Spain and now lives in London, said that as the mother of three British children, she found Theresa's May approach 'worrying'. She is married to the former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who served as deputy prime minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government between 2010-2015 under Mrs May's predecessor David Cameron.

As an European living in the UK - and therefore unable to vote in the EU referendum - she feels "nothing has changed but everything has changed."

"It's very difficult to explain sometimes to be a European who has lived here for a while and to wake up to that result", she said.

Ms González Durántez was speaking in the first edition of ITV News' Ask A Woman interview series - where Julie Etchingham talks to women from all walks of life about their experiences and the advice they have for young women today.

  • Watch in full: Julie Etchingham's Ask A Woman interview with Miriam González Durántez

Among the other topics discussed in the interview:

  • '#MeToo wouldn't have happened without Donald Trump becoming president'
Credit: PA

Speaking about the women's rights campaign #MeToo, Ms González Durántez said the only thing she had to say 'thank you' to President Trump for was his election helped spark the movement.

"I am convinced that #MeToo wouldn't have happened if it wasn't part of a reaction to the election of a president who has spoken about women in the terms that he has spoken. Whether he thinks that or not, he said it and it was clearly said, and there wasn't the kind of apology and self-flagellation you need to have when you have done something like that.

"It was that reaction and the reaction to what he started doing in terms of reproductive rights [is] what led to a lot of feelings that were brewing for a long time to suddenly come out. And it was the interaction, in my view, of the reaction to President Trump, and social media, that made it possible."

  • 'My grandfather is to thank for my feminism'

Ms González Durántez spoke of how much she owes to her grandfather for where she is today. He came from a 'unprivileged background' in a small Spanish village and had four children including Miriam's mother, who he sent to study to study for a chemistry and physics degree. It was a 'big thing' for Miriam's mother to be able to study and work, she said.

"I still feel that the things I do in my life, I look backwards - I owe it to my grandparents. They made such an effort to ensure my parents could have the life they had and my parents, in turn, they did that for us." "He was absolutely obsessed with economic independence. He told my sister and I, economic independence is the key to freedom."

  • 'The lack of self-confidence in girls is shocking'

Ms González Durántez, who is the founder of a charity called Inspiring Girls, which links up professional women to mentor schoolgirls around the world, says the lack of self-confidence in young teenage girls around the world is shocking and a big surprise.

"You go to talk to 13, 14 year-old girls and the issue that keeps coming up is lack of self-confidence. I think it comes a little bit from...gender stereotypes. [Girls] start noticing from five or six years old, they start looking at jobs in particular as 'jobs for men' and 'jobs for women'. It keeps building...by 13, 14, some girls start thinking 'some subjects may not be for me' - if you don't get rid of it, like a bad weed, it keeps growing.

She believes intervening early in girls' lives will stop gender stereotypes developing. "It's not complex" to fix, she said.

Miriam's tips for self-confidence? "I find it in experience and in the people around me. Confidence is a product of your experience. When you've done something 25 times, the 26th time, you know you can do it. You also know, which I think is more important, is that if you mess up, it's not the end of the world."

  • Who are the three women Miriam González Durántez finds most inspiring?
Beyoncé, Sonia Gandhi and Frida Kahlo

In each Ask A Woman interview, we ask our guest who their three most inspirational women are. Miriam's choices are:

Beyoncé: "Because whenever I ask girls anywhere in the world who is your number one role model, the answer that keeps coming up is Beyonce!"

Sonia Gandhi, an Indian politician born who led the Indian National Congress party for a record 19 years between 1998 and 2017, becoming viewed as one of the most powerful politicians in the country. Her husband Rajiv, who was prime minister Rajiv, was assassinated in 1991. He took over as PM from his mother, Indira Gandhi, was also assassinated in 1984. "I have always been intrigued by what it is to jump into politics after everything that happened with her family", Miriam says.

Frida Kahlo, considered to be one of Mexico's greatest artists: "I like people who break the rules"

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