Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday said Britain was making good progress in its divorce talks with the European Union and that she looked forward to moving on to discuss future trade partnerships soon.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier earlier said the talks had hit a dead-end over money and ruled out discussions on future trade being allowed to start next week.
“There has actually been good progress made in these talks, and Barnier himself has recognised that over the coming weeks we will be able to make constructive progress as well,” May told reporters, adding that good progress was being made on the issue of citizens’ rights.
“(We) also want to ensure that we get onto that business of talking about the future relationship, the future partnership we’re going to have with the EU....We look forward to moving on to being able to talk about that.”
Barnier earlier said the talks are deadlocked over money. He also ruled out discussions on future trade being launched by EU leaders next week but spoke of possible progress by December.
Barnier and his British counterpart, Brexit Secretary David Davis, told reporters there had been some progress this week on the other two issues around Britain’s March 2019 withdrawal from the bloc on which the EU demands “sufficient progress” before it will agree to discuss a transition and future relationship.
Davis renewed his call for EU leaders to give a green light to those talks when they meet Prime Minister Theresa May at an EU summit in Brussels next Thursday.
Barnier made clear, however, that despite new momentum from concessions given by May in a speech at Florence last month, British proposals on expatriate citizens’ rights and the Irish border still failed the EU test, while London’s refusal to spell out a detailed cash offer was “very worrying” for business.
May said Britain would ensure the other 27 countries did not lose out financially from Brexit in the current EU budget period to 2020 and would honour commitments — but Barnier said London was failing to spell out just what it was ready to pay.
“Regarding that question, we are at an impasse, which is very worrying for thousands of projects everywhere in Europe and also worrying for those who contribute,” he said.
Nonetheless, he offered hope: “I am still convinced that, with political will, decisive progress is within reach in the coming two months. With David Davis, we will organise several negotiating meetings between now and the end of the year.”
With signs that nerves are fraying on both sides and some hardline Brexit supporters demanding that May just walk out of talks, both negotiators repeated that they were ready for any eventuality including a collapse.
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