The prime minister of Slovakia is part of an influential group of Eastern European countries demanding that the rights of their citizens who live and work in Britain are protected.
The Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – want a guarantee that their nationals are treated as equal if they are expected to agree to any Brexit deal.
Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, said: ‘Unless we feel a guarantee that these people are equal, we will veto any agreement between the EU and Britain.’
Theresa May has refused to guarantee the status of EU nationals in the UK until the rights of Britons overseas are respected. Mr Fico’s stance is seen as a move designed to end the fears of ex-pats of all nationalities across Europe.
Mr Fico said: ‘V4 countries will be uncompromising. I think Britain knows this is an issue for us where there’s no room for compromise.’
EU officials have also said there could be no granting Britain access to the EU’s single market unless London accepts the freedom of movement of workers that lies at the heart of European Union accords.
Mr Fico reiterated that he was opposed to any ‘cherry-picking’ in negotiations, saying EU freedoms must remain.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon vowed to block any proposals for an EU army while Britain remains a member of the union, in a move likely to anger European leaders.