Davis con­cedes Brexit sched­ule

● Trade won’t be dis­cussed be­fore progress on di­vorce bill ● EU ne­go­tia­tor says ‘no deal worse than a fair deal’

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS West­min­ster Cor­re­spon­dent

Davis and the EU Com­mis­sion chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier met in Brus­sels in the first of what will be at least a year of monthly meet­ings, both promis­ing to hold talks in a “con­struc­tive” spirit.

But Mr Barnier added that he was “not in a frame of mind to make con­ces­sions”, and sug­gested the UK would have to face up to “sub­stan­tial” con­se­quences of leav­ing the EU.

“The United King­dom has de­cided to leave the Euro­pean Union, it is not the other way around,” Mr Barnier said.

“The UK is go­ing to leave the Euro­pean Union, sin­gle mar­ket and the cus­toms union, not the other way around.

“So, we each have to as­sume our re­spon­si­bil­ity and the con­se­quences of our de­ci­sions. And the con­se­quences are sub­stan­tial.”

Theresa May will present her plan for se­cur­ing the rights of EU cit­i­zens in the UK and Bri­tons liv­ing in Europe at a meet­ing of EU heads of govern­ment on Thurs­day.

A de­tailed pa­per will then be pub­lished on Mon­day, Mr Davis con­firmed.

Mr Barnier also re­jected the UK govern­ment’s claim that it would be bet­ter off walk­ing away from talks with­out a deal if the terms of­fered by the EU aren’t sat­is­fac­tory, telling a press con­fer­ence: “For both the Euro­pean Union and the United King­dom, a fair deal is pos­si­ble and far bet­ter than no deal.

“That is what I said to David to­day. That’s why we will work all the time with the UK and never against the UK. There will be no hos­til­ity on my side.

“I will dis­play a con­struc­tive at­ti­tude firmly based on the in­ter­ests and sup­port of the 27 [mem­ber states].”

Mr Barnier did not give a fig­ure for how much the EU will be de­mand­ing to set­tle the UK’S out­stand­ing bud­get com­mit­ments.

The Brexit sec­re­tary said there was “much com­mon ground”be­tween­thet­wo­sides on the is­sue of EU na­tion­als.

Mr Davis said, “Ever since the ref­er­en­dum, I have been clear that my first pri­or­ity is to pro­vide cer­tainty to Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens liv­ing in the United King­dom, and to UK cit­i­zens res­i­dent in the Euro­pean Union — and I know Michel shares that as­pi­ra­tion too.

“So now that the ne­go­ti­a­tions have started, we are de­ter­mined to get on with the job and de­liver that cer­tainty as soon as pos­si­ble.”

He added: “To­day marks the start of a jour­ney, for the United King­dom and for the Euro­pean Union.

“There is a long way to go, but we are off to a promis­ing start. We have taken the first, crit­i­cal steps to­gether.

“Now, we have a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­liver quick and sub­stan­tive progress.”

Mr Davis and Mr Barnier, both keen hik­ers, ex­changed moun­taineer­ing-re­lated gifts to mark the start of talks, with the EU’S chief ne­go­tia­tor jok­ing about the “steep and rocky path” ahead.

Ian Mur­ray, the Labour MP for Ed­in­burgh South, called on Mr Davis to aban­don any sug­ges­tion that the UK could walk away from Brexit talks with­out a deal.

Mr Mur­ray said it was “pie in the sky” to sug­gest that a trade and cus­toms deal would se­cure the same ac­cess for to the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket as EU mem­ber­ship.

“Ul­ti­mately, if the Govern­ment is re­ally out to get the best deal for Britain, they must be open to com­pro­mise on more than just the timetable of the talks, and start putting our eco­nomic pros­per­ity at the heart of their ne­go­ti­at­ing strat­egy,” he said.

“The best start would be to aban­don the dan­ger­ous idea that we could leave the Euro­pean Union with no deal at all, which would be the worst pos­si­ble out­come for jobs and liv­ing stan­dards in this coun­try.”

0 Let the talks be­gin – Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis and EU chief

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.