Brexit: UK will retain European Union rules during transition, says Hammond

Lawrence Kim
December 18, 2017

That deal, covering the divorce issues of citizens' rights, the Irish border and the UK's £39 billion exit bill, will now be transformed into a legally binding form to be signed by October ahead of ratification by the European Parliament, Westminster and national assemblies around the EU.

British Prime Minister Theresa May praised her fellow European leaders Friday for agreeing to move on to the next phase in the negotiations over the U.K.'s withdrawal from the EU. The European Commission is due to present its views on the transition next week.

The momentous decision was announced by European Council president Donald Tusk after discussions lasting less than half an hour in Brussels.

The EU is willing to start talks next month on a roughly two-year transition period to ease Britain out after March 2019, but has asked for more detail from London on what it wants before it will open trade negotiations from March of next year. "We have to make sure [a country that leaves] doesn't stay in a transition stage for ever - it wouldn't work for either the United Kingdom, nor the EU", Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar told press after the meeting. "Hope for close future relations with United Kingdom after Brexit". That means no United Kingdom commissioner, no MEPs, and no United Kingdom minister at council meetings.

"This is an important step on the road to delivering the smooth and orderly Brexit that people voted for in June 2016", she said.

Mr Juncker said on Friday that the EU's initial priority was to "formalise the agreement" that had been reached before moving forward.

"Everyone appreciated her personal efforts and engagement", Christian Kern, Austria's prime minister said Thursday night.

The prime minister has said the government is "proving the doubters wrong" with its Brexit negotiations.

The unity achieved at the end of the first phase of Brexit talks, and how it could be maintained, was very much on the mind of leaders on the summit.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned even tougher work lies ahead after the European Union agreed to move talks on Britain's departure to the second stage.

"Unity was very much the topic of the discussion", Varadkar said, adding that individual bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom should be avoided.

European Union leaders were putting pressure on Mrs May to spell out precisely what the United Kingdom wants on trade, with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat saying: "I think the first really big step is for the United Kingdom to say pretty clearly what it wants, in clear terms". The 27 know it is in their interest to remain closely united as they have clearly been in the first phase.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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