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EU gives UK five days to deliver on key issues

  • Published at 08:26 pm July 12th, 2017
EU gives UK five days to deliver on key issues

The EU has piled further pressure on Britain to settle its “divorce bill” and the fate of EU citizens after Brexit – demanding answers within five days.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, also ridiculed Boris Johnson’s claim that the EU could “go whistle” over the multi-billion pound exit settlement.

“I'm not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking,” Barnier told a Brussels conference - underlining where the power lies, in his view.

The second round of the withdrawal negotiations will get underway next Monday, bringing Barnier face-to-face with Brexit Secretary David Davis again.

But the chief negotiator said he wanted clarification “before the beginning of the second round” – making clear he was willing to work through the weekend to make progress.

Barnier also insisted he was not trying to push Theresa May into walking out of the talks by requiring the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, including over the rights of citizens.

Until now, it had been thought that EU leaders would be satisfied provided Theresa May – if she survives in office – set out the UK’s detailed position at a summit in October.

Last month, Davis caved in to the EU’s demand for citizens’ rights, the size of Britain’s “divorce bill” and border issues to be settled at the outset of the negotiations.

He was forced to drop his central demand for talks on future trade – Britain’s priority – to be staged in parallel, within hours of arriving in Brussels.

The negotiations would only move onto trade when the EU decided “enough progress” had been made on its three priorities, Mr Davis conceded.

That sets the scene for an autumn row, after Tory backbenchers lined up to insist the Prime Minister must not agree to pay a penny as the price for Brexit.

But Barnier attacked British politicians who have described the financial settlement as a “ransom” – insisting the EU was “simply settling accounts”. “It's not an exit bill. It is not a punishment. It is not a revenge. At no time has it been those things,” he said.

He made clear the EU would not discuss anything else without progress on its three priorities, which were “indivisible and intertwined”.

Before meeting Davis on Monday, Barnier will hold talks with both Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones, the leaders of Scotland and Wales respectively.

However, he stressed that he will only negotiate with the UK Government – not with opposition politicians.

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