At last, EU chiefs give green light for talks on trade deal

Daily Mail - - News -

EU lead­ers will give the green light next week for Brexit talks about a trade deal with the UK, it emerged last night.

The break­through fol­lows pleas by Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis and EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier.

They want Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal chiefs to end the ‘dis­turb­ing’ stale­mate in Brexit talks by loos­en­ing their rigid rules.

In a boost to Bri­tain, the bloc’s lead­ers will fi­nally start draw­ing up plans for a fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with Bri­tain.

Theresa May has re­peat­edly said that the UK will re­frain from fi­nal­is­ing the ‘di­vorce bill’ un­less Brus­sels opens up talks.

A leaked doc­u­ment last night re­vealed that the EU is fi­nally will­ing to make the move at a Euro­pean Coun­cil sum­mit next week. The doc­u­ment – draft con­clu­sions for next week’s sum­mit com­posed by Euro- pean Coun­cil pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk – states that of­fi­cials will al­low Mr Barnier and his team to start ‘in­ter­nal prepara­tory dis­cus­sions’ on a post-Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod and trad­ing re­la­tion­ship.

While fall­ing short of the full trade talks with Bri­tain that Down­ing Street pre­vi­ously hoped would be opened, the de­vel­op­ment will be seen as a break­through in Lon­don.

Mr Barnier said a break­through was ‘within our grasp’ if the EU’s lead­ing pow­ers show the ‘po­lit­i­cal will’. But he also crit­i­cised the Gov­ern­ment’s ‘ very dis­turb­ing’ re­fusal to pay a £90bil­lion di­vorce bill.

The head of the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund said she ‘can­not imag­ine’ a sit­u­a­tion where there will be no Brexit deal.

Chris­tine La­garde urged EU ne­go­tia­tors to reach a deal as soon as pos­si­ble.

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