UK, EU negotiators to 'get down to work' on Brexit terms

Elias Hubbard
July 17, 2017

The EU's top negotiator, Michel Barnier, will meet with the UK's Brexit minister, David Davis, in the morning.

U.K. Secretary of State David Davis said at the start of the four-day session Monday that "it is incredibly important we now make good progress".

"And now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation".

The British side had urged over the past months an immediate start of trade talks, but Barnier had insisted that key issues of Brexit must be dealt with before trade talks begin.

It's the second such meeting - the first round in June saw Britain concede to the EU's demand to first focus on discussing citizens' rights, the Irish border and a financial settlement.

This week's talks are also set to address more detailed concerns such as Britain's future in Euratom, the EU's nuclear safety agency, and the role of the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court.

Negotiation on the exit bill might be especially tough, following British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson's remark last week that the European Union could "go whistle" over its "extortionate" bill demand.

Earlier on Sunday, finance minister Philip Hammond had said senior British government ministers were becoming convinced of the need for transitional arrangements to reduce disruption as Britain leaves the EU.

Only when "sufficient progress" has been made on those matters will the European Union allow discussions to turn to trade.

"The plenary meetings [of the Brexit talks] will show us whether there is a realistic basis for agreement or whether the British government can not move at all because of its own problems", said Elmar Brok, a German centre-right MEP who helps coordinate the European parliament's position on Brexit. He added that Britain's proposal to safeguard the rights of European citizens is "good" and "I hope very much that people will look at that offer in the spirit it deserves".

The rowing will be seen as further evidence of Theresa May's weakness after seeing her Commons majority wiped out in last month's general election.

The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, accused his rivals in the Cabinet of trying to undermine his plans for a business-friendly withdrawal over the weekend. "Over the last few weeks, I've tried to advance ensuring that we achieve a Brexit that is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising standards in the future". "This government is facing a ticking clock over the Brexit negotiations", Hammond said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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