Friday, 21 July, 2017

Pound weakens on political discord ahead of Brexit negotiations

Round two of #Brexit negotiations begins UK, EU Set To Open Next Round Of Brexit Talks In Brussels
Sammy Stanley | 17 July, 2017, 16:26

"I look forward to our negotiations this week", said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, while giving a "warm welcome" to his United Kingdom counterpart, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.

"Now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation", he said before Davis and Barnier headed off for talks.

Also to be determined is the cost of Britain's exit from the bloc.

With little more than a year to decide the terms before Britain leaves, deal or no deal, on 30 March, 2019, the 27 other European Union national leaders want British Prime Minister Theresa May to rally her polarised nation - and her fractious cabinet - swiftly behind a clear, detailed Brexit plan.

Citizens' rights, Northern Ireland, the Brexit bill, and separation issues will be discussed this week.

Crucially, last month, Mr Davis caved in to the EU's insistence that the talks would move on to trade only when "enough progress" had been made on Brussels' three priorities.

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"We made a good start last month but. we are now getting into the substance of the matter", Davis told reporters as he was welcomed at the European Commission in Brussels by Barnier, a little more than a year after Britons voted by a narrow majority to leave the EU.

A weekend of media briefings from competing factions within the Conservatives did little to reassure companies, though most cabinet ministers appear now to accept that there needs to be what May calls an "implementation phase". "We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress".

But as the talks get under way, it is reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond is being accused of Brexit treachery and trying to frustrate the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Last week the government admitted there would have to be a financial settlement, despite Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claiming the European Union could "go whistle" for the money.

On that timetable, Barnier reckons, a broad political deal on the outlines of a new, open trading relationship could be in place by late next year, allowing for a transitional phase of up to a few years after Brexit to negotiate all the details.

It comes after reports emerged that Mr Davis would be carrying sensitive documents in a special briefcase that can't be accessed by foreign spies.

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