Tories seek to project united front on Brexit

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

Bri­tain said yes­ter­day it wants talks with the EU to move on to the next phase, as it set out de­tails of the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship it en­vis­ages with the bloc and se­nior min­is­ters pre­sented a united ap­proach to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Bri­tain is keen to start talk­ing about its post-Brexit re­la­tion­ship with Europe, wary of the need to re­as­sure anx­ious busi­nesses, cit­i­zens and in­vestors. But Brus­sels has in­sisted that progress must be made on di­vorce ar­range­ments first.

“We need to get on with ne­go­ti­at­ing big­ger is­sues around our fu­ture part­ner­ship to en­sure we get a deal that de­liv­ers a strong UK and EU,” Brexit Min­is­ter David Davis said.

Bri­tain’s call to move for­ward with Brexit talks came as Fi­nance Min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond and Trade Min­is­ter Liam Fox pre­sented a united front that there should be a time-lim­ited tran­si­tion pe­riod, sig­nalling a truce be­tween ri­val fac­tions in Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s cab­i­net.

Davis’s Brexit De­part­ment said it was pre­par­ing to pub­lish sev­eral pa­pers, in­clud­ing plans for a new cus­toms ar­range­ment and a pro­posal on how to re­solve the dif­fi­cul­ties of a non-phys­i­cal bor­der be­tween Ire­land and North­ern Ire­land.

“We’ve been crys­tal clear that is­sues around our with­drawal and our fu­ture part­ner­ship are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked,” a source in Bri­tain’s Brexit De­part­ment said.

Talks so far have fo­cused on how much Bri­tain should pay to leave the EU, what rights Bri­tish and EU cit­i­zens will have, and how to man­age a land bor­der to the bloc in Ire­land. The two will be look­ing to solve those is­sues at the next round of talks due at the end of this month.

The de­ci­sion to an­nounce the pub­li­ca­tion of pa­pers on its plans in­di­cates Bri­tain’s de­sire to counter crit­i­cism from Brus­sels. In July, EU of­fi­cials said progress was dif­fi­cult not be­cause Bri­tain had un­ac­cept­able de­mands, but be­cause it had no po­si­tion at all on many is­sues.

EU ne­go­tia­tors have warned that an al­ready-tight timetable could be de­layed ahead of a sched­uled March 2019 exit.

Anti-Brexit cam­paign­ers protest out­side a health and leisure cen­tre in Bris­tol, Eng­land, on Fri­day. PIC­TURE: REUTERS

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