Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday

17 June, 2017, 08:44 | Author: Garry Little
  • Prime Minister Theresa May will resume talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster

Former prime minister David Cameron said May needed to listen to opposition parties, and that there would be pressure for a softer Brexit that would give greater priority to a close trading deal with the EU.

After touring the wrecked and fire-blackened apartment block and ordering an inquiry, May returned to talks to try to seal a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to secure the backing of their 10 lawmakers in parliament to help her pass laws and govern as Britain starts talks to leave the EU.

There was speculation that chaos in Britain, caused by last week's shock general election outcome, would lead to Brexit negotiations being delayed.

Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds is leading the DUP delegation to London as party leader Arlene Foster has returned to Northern Ireland, the spokesman said.

"We are continuing to have talks but today, as you will imagine, there has been a real focus on this bad tragedy in London", May said.

Media reports suggested an agreement could be delayed into next week, but the spokesman said: "I certainly have heard nothing on this side to indicate that".

"We made the case to her that we would oppose any deal that undermined the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

Mr Gabriel echoed the remarks of French president Emmanuel Macron, who on Wednesday dealt a blow to "hard" Brexit by suggesting the process can be reversed if the United Kingdom wished to do so.

The talks are being closely watched in European capitals as they could delay the expected start of Brexit negotiations next week, as well as change Britain's entire approach to its EU withdrawal.

Before the election, May proposed a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from the European Union single market, limits on immigration and a bespoke customs deal with the EU.

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Britain voted by 52 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union in a referendum previous year.

"It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance", she said.

The European Parliament's chief negotiator has demanded Britain clarifies its position and abandons its plans for a "hard" Brexit.

"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.

But a newly appointed junior Brexit minister, Steve Baker, told Reuters: "I don't foresee any change..."

"We will go into speak with Sinn Féin again on Monday morning because devolution works and works for everybody in Northern Ireland", she said emphatically.

The negotiations will be headed by the Commission's team on the European Union side, but the Council's working group made up of diplomats from the 27 member states would be on-call for feedback.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has announced that representatives from all five of Northern Ireland's main parties have been invited to meet the prime minister on Thursday.

Under the proposed deal, the DUP would likely support May's Conservatives on big issues such as the budget, Brexit and defence legislation on a vote-by-vote-basis.

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