UK is liv­ing in dream­land if it thinks it will get early trade deal, says EU

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Glen Owen news@mailon­sun­day.ie

BRI­TAIN’S Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis has been told by EU ne­go­tia­tors to ‘dream on’ if he thinks he can strike a trade deal with Brus­sels be­fore agree­ing to fork out bil­lions of euro for the di­vorce.

With ten­sions es­ca­lat­ing be­tween Mr Davis and the EU ahead of the third round of talks to­mor­row, the ne­go­tia­tors last night also warned Mr Davis to tone down his bel­li­cose lan­guage or risk de­rail­ing the en­tire process.

Re­spond­ing to a bullish de­mand from Mr Davis for the UK’s fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship to be put on the ta­ble now, a se­nior source close to the Brus­sels ne­go­ti­a­tions told The

EU wants Bri­tain to pay €75bn

Mail on Sun­day this weekend: ‘David Davis can dream on if he thinks EU ne­go­tia­tors will be bul­lied into dis­cussing the out­lines of a fu­ture re­la­tion­ship be­fore di­vorce ar­range­ments are in place.’

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, is re­fus­ing to ac­cede to Mr Davis’s de­mand un­til agreement has been reached on the di­vorce bill – the EU wants Bri­tain to pay up to €75bn as the price for leav­ing – the bor­der ar­range­ments in North­ern Ire­land and the post-Brexit rights of EU cit­i­zens in the UK.

Mr Barnier will an­nounce in Oc­to­ber whether ‘suf­fi­cient progress’ has been made on the is­sues to al­low trade talks to start. But with both sides ap­pear­ing to be dig­ging in and the clock tick­ing to­wards the exit in March 2019, EU sources now put the chances of striking a deal with Bri­tain at ‘not much bet­ter than 50-50’.

Mr Barnier’s team have been unim­pressed by the batch of Brexit po­si­tion pa­pers re­leased by the UK over the past fort­night that set out their goals for the ne­go­ti­a­tions, be­liev­ing that their main pur­pose is to at­tempt to re­solve bit­ter Cab­i­net splits over ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Brexit.

Mr Davis’s aides counter by say­ing Mr Barnier needs to be ‘more flex­i­ble’ in his ap­proach and demon­strate more ‘imag­i­na­tion’ in or­der to drive the talks for­ward. His aides also in­sist that the po­si­tion pa­pers, which set out how the UK would leave the Cus­toms Union af­ter a two-to-three-year tran­si­tion pe­riod, keep an in­vis­i­ble bor­der with North­ern Ire­land and leave the ‘di­rect’ ju­ris­dic­tion of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice, have ‘demon­strated the UK’s prag­matic ap­proach to ne­go­ti­a­tions’.

The round of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­ing opened by Mr Davis and Mr Barnier to­mor­row will last un­til Thurs­day. A UK Govern­ment source said yes­ter­day: ‘This round of ne­go­ti­a­tions will act as a step­ping stone to more sub­stan­tial talks in Septem­ber.

‘Both sides must be flex­i­ble and will­ing to com­pro­mise when it comes to solv­ing ar­eas where we dis­agree. As the EU it­self has said, the clock is tick­ing so nei­ther side should drag its feet.’ But an EU source said: ‘We are adamant that we will stick to the se­quenc­ing timetable which has al­ready been agreed with David Davis.’

Mean­while, pro-EU cam­paign­ers last night ac­cused UK min­is­ters of a ‘shame­ful at­tempt’ to ‘erase his­tory’ by de­mand­ing that all govern­ment Brexit doc­u­ments are slapped with a ban on pub­li­ca­tion.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, a sup­porter of ‘soft’ Brexit pres­sure group Open Bri­tain, said buried in the UK’s po­si­tion pa­per on con­fi­den­tial­ity it made clear that of­fi­cials would be re­stricted from dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion about the process.

He said: ‘Af­ter years of com­plain­ing about the EU’s lack of trans­parency, this smells like a shame­ful at­tempt by min­is­ters to dodge scru­tiny.’

‘Both sides must be flex­i­ble’

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