1. ITV Report

Theresa May in Brussels as EU leaders consider 'top jobs' despite imminent resignation

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

Theresa May has joined Europe’s leaders as they begin the process of choosing a new leader for the European Commission.

Leaders from all 28 European Union countries have gathered in Brussels for talks to decide who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker as the Commission's president.

Following announcement of her resignation last week, and taking into account the UK's planned departure from the EU at the end of October, the meetings present a diplomatic tangle for Mrs May.

But she insisted she would play "a constructive role" in the decision making process.

  • ITV News Europe Editor James Mates explains Mrs May's role in the selection process

Speaking to reporters, Mrs May conceded: "While we are still a member of the EU, while I am Prime Minister, I will be continuing to meet the obligations of the office, the duties of the office, and that includes being here today where we are due to discuss the top jobs in EU institutions," she said as she arrived in Brussels.

"The UK will continue to play a constructive role during the time of this extension of Article 50."

It comes as she washed her hands of Brexit duties, stating a new leader will have to pick up the baton after the Conservative Party selects a new head.

Theresa May speaks with Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel. Credit: AP
  • What is Mrs May expected to achieve during her visit?

Her role around the meeting table is likely to be extremely limited - an influence she once had has been wiped out after announcement of her resignation.

But it won't be an entirely wasted visit.

As part of the trip, Mrs May has a series of meetings in Brussels with Mr Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk.

Its expected Mr Juncker will make it clear there will be no extension to the October 31 deadline to the UK to withdraw from the EU.

National leaders are also likely to consider candidates for European Council president, EU high representative – responsible for foreign affairs – and head of the European Central Bank. Mrs May will, as a European leader, have a role in these discussions - but her voice may not be listened to.

Theresa May has met with other European leaders in Brussels. Credit: AP

Downing Street would not be drawn on whether Mr Barnier would be a good candidate for the commission role, with the prime minister’s official spokesman saying: “I’m not getting into any of that.”

Asked whether Mrs May backed the selection process, the spokesman added: "The Prime Minister supports President Tusk’s approach in seeking to create a package of candidates across the top jobs."

Mrs May has always been one for serving her public obligations, indeed many commented on her as a "dedicated public servant" following her resignation. But it's likely this trip to Brussels, long after the UK should have left the EU, is almost as unplanned as it is humiliating for the prime minister.