Nearly exactly a year after Britain’s seismic referendum to leave the bloc, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier of France, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a cheery handshake at the European Commission in Brussels. Hammond, speaking to reporters before a meeting of the 28 European Union finance ministers on Friday, said Britain should work closely with the bloc to prioritize jobs and prosperity when Brexit talks start next week.
Barnier said there will be one week of negotiations every month and the two sides will use the time in between to work out proposals.
The UK’s Brexit team should try to break down the…
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier (right) and Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis at the European Commission.
Monday’s talks however are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said.
Still, the government has made sure to retain the option of walking away without agreement, and important differences remain on both sides.
Britain appears to have given in on the EU’s insistence that the negotiationsfirst focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal. He thought that this first round of negotiations would be about getting a feel for each other.
Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said London wanted a deep and special relationship with the European Union after the divorce and that he would conduct the talks in a constructive tone.
Negotiations start exactly one year after Britain shocked the world by voting to exit the European Union and almost three months since Prime Minister Theresa May locked the country into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019.
Theresa May had called for voters in the election to choose her “strong and stable leadership” to ensure that the United Kingdom had a strong hand in the Brexit negotiations.
Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019.
In Luxembourg last week for a meeting of the 28 European Union finance ministers, Hammond underlined that he wanted both the European Union and Britain to take a “pragmatic” approach to the talks.
Barnier and Davis, who last met briefly in November, appeared relaxed and were on first-name terms, but the two sides begin discussions poles apart on a host of contentious issues, particularly the size of any Brexit settlement and the compatibility of Britain’s trade ambitions with European Union law on immigration.
Echoing Barnier, British Brexit minister David Davis applauded the “very productive discussions”, saying, “I’ve been encouraged by the constructive approach that both sides have taken”.
Research by Survation for Good Morning Britain (GMB) gave Jeremy Corbyn’s party a three-point lead over the Conservatives, as 44% of respondents backed Labour, 41% opted for the Tories, 6% for the Lib Dems and 2% for Ukip.
The storm clouds began to gather in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, when investors quickly sent the pound to its lowest level in decades over fears that Britain would lose preferential access to Europe’s vast markets.
“There is more that unites us than divides us”, Davis said, referring to the latest reported terror attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal.
He also said that “a fair deal is possible and far better than no deal”.