Saturday, 21 October, 2017

Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday

Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.  AFP Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. AFP
Christy Curtis | 17 June, 2017, 06:55

In a joint press meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, May stressed that the "timetable has not changed and negotiations will begin next week", dismissing fears of a possible delay in Brexit talks after she lost parliamentary majority in a snap general election.

Negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will begin between British and EU officials on Monday, the British government said in a statement.

Theresa May had repeatedly said during the election campaign that the Brexit talks would start 11 days after the June 8 vote, using it as a warning that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour were not ready for the negotiations.

Davis will visit the Belgian city for talks opening on June 19, just under a year after the United Kingdom voted to leave.

May is holding talks Thursday with other Northern Ireland political parties amid warnings the expected DUP deal will undermine the peace process. As the European Union has itself said, "nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed".

The UK Government wants the talks to take place in parallel during the Brexit process but both sides have made finding a solution to the issue of citizens' rights a priority. The performance of the British economy could also influence perceptions: Data on Wednesday showed average weekly pay in the three months to April was down 0.4 percent, year-on-year, in inflation-adjusted terms - the biggest fall since the three months to September 2014.

May is set to meet with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland on Tuesday to cobble together a deal to ensure her minority government can get its Queen's Speech through Parliament.

Put together, May's case for a hard Brexit is extraordinarily weak - something that negotiators in Brussels will see coming before Davis and his team have a chance to step off the Eurostar train.

Even with a deal nearing to secure her government's survival, May is so weakened that her Brexit strategy has become the subject of public debate inside her own party, with two former prime ministers urging her to soften her approach.

Nigel Farage, UKIP, and the Brexit referendum may one day be counted among the saviours of the European Union.

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