Brexit talks stall as British cabinet feuds

Jul 17, 2017, 20:36
Brexit talks stall as British cabinet feuds

Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator, offered Mr Davis a "warm welcome" and said the latest round of discussions, which will last for four days, would "delve into the heart of the matter".

"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.

One unnamed Cabinet minister was reported to have hit back, claiming Mr Hammond was part of an attempt by "the Establishment" to prevent Britain ever leaving the EU.

Also to be determined is the cost of Britain's exit from the bloc.

David Davis, the UK's Brexit minister, took a break from cabinet infighting on Monday to make a lightning trip to Brussels, albeit one mainly notable for an awkward photo opportunity.

"For us it is incredibly important that we now make good progress, that we negotiate through this and identify the differences so that we can deal with them, and identify the similarities so we can reinforce them", Davis said. Mr Fox ruled out any delay to full European Union withdrawal that prevented Britain from signing trade deals with non-EU countries from day one after departure day, in March 2019.

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Davis and Barnier spent only a half-hour in negotiations Monday, and photographs from the talks featured bulging files of papers on Barnier's side of the table and little evidence on Davis'.

Even though May had insisted that the Brexit process can't be reversed, her government will not be able to pursue the firm Brexit line she favored, following an undesired result of the June snap election, in which her party lost majority in the House of Commons.

"It's absolutely clear that businesses, where they have discretion over investment, where they can hold off, are doing so", Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said last Sunday on BBC Television's Andrew Marr Show.

Negotiators will focus on key issues concerning Britain's withdrawal, including citizens' rights, Britain's exit bill and the border in Northern Ireland.

At a separate meeting of foreign ministers, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted that a recent offer by Prime Minister Theresa May for European Union citizens in Britain is "a very fair, serious offer".

Working groups will focus on three areas: citizens' rights; the EU demand that Britain pays some 60 billion euros ($70 billion) to cover ongoing EU budget commitments; and other loose ends, such as what happens to British goods in EU shops on Brexit Day.

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