Friday, 23 June, 2017

Germany: no punishment for UK, but EU exit good for no one

Philip Hammond said he wanted an exit that would support jobs and investment Philip Hammond said he wanted an exit that would support jobs and investment
Kenny Thornton | 19 June, 2017, 14:02

And even when May finally triggered the two-year unraveling process on March 29, she followed it up with an early election she counted on winning big, only to lose her majority in the June 8 poll.

Critics argue she is in a weak position to fight Britain's corner against European Union counterparts who question whether her writ still runs in Westminster.

United Kingdom negotiator David Davis and the EU's Barnier have one key issue over the first weeks of talks: building trust after months of haggling over leaks and figures over the final bill that Britain would have to pay for leaving.

Once the divorce is agreed, the talks will focus on that future trade deal that May wants and which she says should feature financial services.

The EU hopes to finish withdrawal talks around October 2018.

The issue most likely to torpedo negotiations is Britain's bill for leaving the bloc.

This date can be extended by agreement between all member states.

But the true figure could be far lower, as the 100 billion does not account for tens of billions that Britain is set to get back in shared assets and rebates. He added: "Brexit won't make anything better, but it will make a lot of things more hard".

Brussels insists that those living in Britain now should be able to keep those rights after Brexit.

Amid reports that May is set to make a "generous offer" on the rights of European Union citizens remaining in Britain, the source said London had been warned against doing so this week, on the grounds that it could drag up the thorny issue before talks had really got going.

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But EU officials have warned her off trying to do this at an EU summit this Thursday, saying it is too soon.

A diplomatic source said: "Doing a deal on Ireland and preserving the Good Friday agreement might be the way the Government quietly changes direction with a new agreement that will also be the template for the wider one with the European Union".

The Times also reported that party members who had campaigned to keep Britain in the European Union were likely to have a candidate lined up to replace May, with interior minister Amber Rudd the likely option.

While "Brexiteers" have strongly backed May's proposed clean break with the single market and customs union, finance minister Philip Hammond and others have this month echoed calls by businesses for less of a "hard Brexit" and retaining closer customs ties.

With May still hammering out the details of a post-election deal to stay in power with the support of a small Northern Irish party, there are fears of a disorderly exit that would weaken the West, imperil Britain's $2.5 trillion economy and undermine London's position as the only financial center to rival NY.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, in Downing Street for talks with Mrs May on restoring powersharing in Northern Ireland, refused to be drawn on how the negotiations were progressing.

Once agreement has been made in this phase of the talks, the second phase discussing the future trade relationship can begin.

Many in Britain have seen the election result as repudiating May's threats to walk away without a deal.

Such is the collapse of May's authority that her entire Brexit strategy is being picked apart in public by her ministers, her lawmakers and her allies on the eve of formal negotiations which begin in Brussels on Monday at 0900 GMT.

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