Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

Gladys Abbott
June 19, 2017

Brexit Minister David Davis will begin talks with European Union officials in Brussels on Monday to work out a deal on Britain's exit from the European Union and its future relationship with the bloc.

Davis, a prominent tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign, sounded a positive note too, saying "there is more that unites us than divides us".

Spring 2019: Mrs May has promised MPs a "take it or leave it" vote on whether to accept any deal or leave the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms.

After Davis and Barnier met over lunch in the Commission's top floor dining rooms, their teams broke up into "working groups" that will be charged with handling specific areas of talks that the European Union expects to take place for a week every month.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the vote one year ago was partly a vote for Britain to control its borders, and has said that Britain will leave Europe's single market, as membership is incompatible with restricting immigration.

"Now, the hard work begins", Mr Davis said, adding he wanted a deal that worked for both sides. An early election this month, in which British Prime Minister Theresa May lost her Conservative majority in parliament, only added to the problems.

The UK wants to begin working out the details of a trade agreement alongside the terms of the withdrawal process.

Pressed over his own party's stance on Brexit, Mr McDonnell said: "Once you leave the European Union, formally you are outside the single market".

The first part of the negotiations on an exit agreement, widely described as the "divorce talks", are due to focus on three elements - the continuing rights of citizens in each other's jurisdictions after Brexit, the financial liabilities of the United Kingdom, and Ireland's border.

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This includes preparations for new bills on customs and immigration.

Mr Davis and Mr Barnier then get together for a final...

24 September: German elections.

20-21 October: EU summit, at which leaders have to decide whether enough progress has been made to move on to phase two of talks, covering the UK's future trade relationship with the bloc.

At stake in hugely complex talks that are expected to conclude by March 2019 is not just Britain's future but a western political order that would be badly shaken by a failure to reach a deal.

Their first task must be to "tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", he said, citing the rights of European Union citizens in Britain and the possible impact on the open border between Northern Ireland and the republic.

Meantime, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier said his aim for Monday would be for Britain to agree to a format and timetable.

The new French President is a fervent European who has made clear that he sees Brexit as an opportunity for the remaining 27 states to relaunch a reformed and improved EU - and for France to poach bankers, academics and other talented people from the UK.

While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter. The departure date can only be extended by agreement between all member states.

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