Challenge to avoid Brexit 'cliff': UK govt

Robyn Ryan
June 23, 2017

At the first day of talks in the Belgian capital, roughly a year after the UK's Brexit referendum, Mr Barnier made clear they would proceed according to the timetable set by the European Union, under which progress on the terms of withdrawal must be made before any discussions on a future trading relationship.

David Davis took a team of eight to Brussels to face the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The EU has demanded an early agreement on three issues: the rights of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom; the UK's "exit" payment to the EU; and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. May, whose future is uncertain after she lost her Conservative majority in an election this month, has insisted that trade talks start immediately and run in parallel.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted previous year to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.

"We've laid solid foundations for future discussions and an ambitious but achievable timetable", said David Davis.

"We will nearly certainly need an implementation period, outside the (EU's) customs union itself, but with current customs border arrangements remaining in place, until new long-term arrangements are up and running", he said, in a speech yesterday. But it must be done in a way that works for Britain ...

May's election debacle has revived feuding over Europe among Conservatives that her predecessor David Cameron hoped to end by calling the referendum and leaves European Union leaders unclear on her plan for a "global Britain" which a lot of them regard as pure folly.

A week of talks will take place once a month, with the next due to start on July 17.

The chancellor also wants to agree a "frictionless customs arrangements to facilitate trade across our borders - and crucially - to keep the land border on the island of Ireland open and free-flowing".

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Hammond's attempts to "distance himself" from Mrs May on Brexit shows the weakness of the PM and the "disarray" the Government is mired in.

May expects the process to be completed by March 2019 but the European Union has warned that the two sides should reach a deal before October 2018.

"As Brexit talks begin, it's important the voice of universities is heard clearly in the negotiations", Universities UK president and University of Kent vice-chancellor Dame Julia Goodfellow said.

The shock general election results have created a hung parliament in which there might be a majority for a "softer" Brexit, which might include continued membership of the Customs Union.

Disagreeing with Mr Weber, the French negotiator said that "there will be no aggression, there will be no spirit of revenge".

"We must push for a new phase of globalisation to ensure that it delivers clear benefits for ordinary working people in developed economies".

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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