Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday

Terrell Bush
June 19, 2017

Theresa May's promised "generous offer" on European Union citizens' rights at the start of the Brexit talks this week will fall short of protection of the status quo, meaning a hard start to the negotiations, officials in Brussels fear.

Brexit talks in Brussels on Monday will focus on the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border, rather than on future trade relations with the European Union, it has been confirmed.

And the source told the BBC that it was understood the talks would broadly follow the EU's preferred sequence, dealing with issues of citizens' rights and a framework for calculating outstanding financial liabilities before moving on, possibly later in the year, to deal with the UK's future relationship with the EU.

The hardline faction, which includes Brexit Secretary David Davis, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, wants a clean break with the European Union in order to regain full control over Britain's borders and do trade deals with non-EU countries. We set out very clearly our desired outcome...

"We've set out the broad principles from where we will start the negotiation and we will negotiate in good faith, but it is a negotiation and we recognise there will be an exchange of views and we will take that forward in a spirit of genuine cooperation", Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told reporters in Luxembourg on Friday.

The source said talks with the small Northern Irish party were progressing well as meetings in Downing Street with all of the British province's main political leaders were taking place.

No deal would be "very, very bad" for Britain, Hammond said, but worse would be a deal "deliberately structured to punish us, to suck the lifeblood out of our economy".

The Frenchman has been given a mandate by the leaders of the remaining EU27 states to focus initially on the key elements of the withdrawal package - a multi-billion euro "divorce bill", rights for European Union citizens and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He said: "I'm not going to disagree that there are Labour voters, who voted Leave and there are significant amounts of Labour voters that voted Remain".


The spokesman added that although some issues would be given early priority "the withdrawal and future are intimately linked".

"We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens", he said.

Ridiculed by the right-wing tabloid media and ignored by Prime Minister Theresa May as she pursued plans for a clean break with the European Union, Britain's pro-Europeans suddenly have something they have long wanted: leverage.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has written to Mr Davis urging him to "reset" the Government's "belligerent and reckless" approach to leaving the EU.

Business chiefs have backed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's call for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have a seat at the Brexit negotiating table.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain a year ago voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

The other 27, including lead powers Germany and France, want to dissuade others from emulating Britain and so insist that any Brexit deal must be less advantageous than full membership.

Among topics that need to be agreed upon is the status of United Kingdom citizens living and working in the EU, as well as that of European nationals doing the same in Britain.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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