Brexit: UK and European Union negotiations to start on Monday

Aaron Brown
June 17, 2017

Asked if he was now accepting Brussels' timetable, as set out by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr Davis said: "What we have said is we will start down this process but I will have some discussions with Mr Barnier about how we progress to the wider thing of the trade area".

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose brand-new party has nearly secured a historic victory in the French parliamentary election, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is riding high in the polls and is likely to be re-elected in September, have the strong mandates necessary for a pitched battle.

The EU has insisted that this sequence involve sorting out Britain's departure and urgent issues like the rights of citizens affected by Brexit before the shape of future ties or trade are discussed.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove declined to deny the reports when pressed, but told Sky News that the reality of the election result meant that May and her government would need to reach beyond party lines. It doesn't really matter to European Union negotiators whom they face across the table - May or her suddenly strengthened rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or someone else.

Before the election, May proposed a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from the European Union single market, limits on immigration and a bespoke customs deal with the EU. A Turkey-style deal which would keep the the EU's customs union and outside the common market is also back in play.

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, struck a harsher tone: Britain, he said, could change its mind, but it would be poorer.

"I agree. But like Alice in Wonderland, not all the doors are the same".

Negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP are understood to be focused on measures to boost the economy in Northern Ireland, as well as proposals to drop some unpopular Conservative manifesto proposals.

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"We would restore faith in politics if we could show that this parliament can at least function in presenting a view in the national interest which would command a majority on a cross-party basis", said veteran pro-European Conservative lawmaker Ken Clarke.

Beyond the basic functions of government, she should aim to do little else.

If she made an announcement to that effect this week, she would be doing herself, her party, and, above all, the country a favour for which she would be widely applauded.

- Despite the surprise vote Thursday by three United Kingdom policymakers to raise interest rates, it's Brexit and politics rather than rates that will likely determine where the British Pound goes from here.

Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, Northern Ireland's second-largest Irish nationalist party, said his party had a "positive" meeting with the prime minister over her efforts to come up with a deal with the DUP.

Some Conservatives are unhappy about the prospect of a deal with the DUP, partly on account of the party's social conservatism but also because any extra funds for Northern Ireland will prompt calls for equivalent transfers to other parts of the UK.

Sinn Fein would support any additional monies going to the Northern Ireland Executive as a resuilt of a deal, he said.

Since last week's general election, there have been calls for a new cross-party approach to talks, but Downing Street has said its strategy will not change.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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