EU's Guy Verhofstadt says uncertainty over UK's Brexit stance 'cannot continue'

Frederick Owens
June 20, 2017

Since the election, her re-appointed Brexit Secretary David Davis, who told Sky News that the negotiation start date may have to be delayed, has said that the "no deal better than bad deal" slogan still stands but said that the government would listen to those calling for a softer Brexit. "As of yet, no date for opening the negotiations has been agreed", an European Union official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "I can't negotiate with myself", Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, told European newspapers including The Financial Times.

With Mrs May short of a majority in Parliament, Mr Gove suggested the Government was prepared to work with Labour to get Brexit measures through the Commons.

The European Parliament, which named former Belgian prime minister Verhofstadt as its Brexit pointman previous year, will have the final say on any deal on Britain's exit from the EU.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier met senior British Brexit official Oliver Robbins in Brussels to discuss arrangements such as dates and the sequencing of talks once they do actually get started.

"I know yesterday Emmanuel Macron spoke about an open door, he said if Britain is changing its mind it will find an open door", he said to the EU Parliament.

With the two-year clock on Brexit ticking since March, when a letter from May formally started proceedings, Barnier dismissed the suggestion of postponing the negotiations and said such a delay would prompt only further instability. Thus we must begin this negotiation.

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Enthusiastic Remainers have been quick to jump on the election result as their latest opportunity to mould the UK's departure from the EU.

He also described Brexit as the "position of the Tories", rather than the democratically expressed will of the British people, and said the United Kingdom should lose the Brussels budget rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, and sovereignty "opt-outs" on borders and the euro.

"It will take us several months to draw out the conditions of an orderly let's not waste time", he said.

A day after France and Germany both said Britain could reverse Brexit if it wanted, Verhofstadt said Britain's budget rebates and opt outs from European Union rules would disappear if it did so.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said he still expects the talks to begin next week and Theresa May insisted on Tuesday the timetable remains on track.

Barnier's interview will heap yet more pressure on May, who called a snap general election to give her a stronger hand at the Brexit negotiating table.

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