Britain in 'good position' in Brexit talks: PM May's spokeswoman

Kristopher Drake
August 31, 2017

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has delivered a fresh rebuke to Theresa May over her Government's handling of the Brexit process.

UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has called for more "flexibility and imagination" in discussions, arguing the status of Northern Ireland is inextricably linked with any future customs or trade relationship.

British officials have complained that European Union negotiators have been unwilling in talks that resumed this week in Brussels to move from guideline positions fixed in the mandate Michel Barnier was given by the other European Union states, leaving substantial gaps between them and proposals put forward by London.

He added: 'I did read, with the requisite attention, all the papers produced by Her Majesty's Government and none of those is actually satisfactory. Barnier, he said, had firm instructions from the other 27 governments on the phasing of talks, even if he accepted that some issues could not be fully settled without knowing how trade will work.

The third round started badly, with negotiators on both sides barely able to hide their frustration.

"It has to be ultra clear that we will not begin any negotiation on the future relationship ... before all the separation issues are settled, that is the divorce of the United Kingdom from the European Union", the President of the European Commission said.

Juncker added: 'First of all we settle the past before we look forward to the future'.

Both Barnier and Juncker have been steadfast in their insistence that talks on future trade can not begin until the divorce bill has been settled but the Times reports there may be sympathy for Britain among some member states. Mr Davis said the papers "should form the basis of what I hope will be a constructive week of talks". Turkey began formal membership talks in 2005 after years of foot-dragging by some European Union member states such as France who were wary of admitting such a large Muslim country.

She told the BBC: "We have been publishing a series of papers over the summer, there will be more papers to come, where we are setting out the key issues that both sides need to address, the options that we have, the ideas we have, of how to deal with those".

Downing Street has also revealed that more papers on the country's position and future goals would be published next week.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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