Time ‘to get down to work’ on Brexit talks, urges Davis
Britain and the EU vowed to get to the “heart of the matter” as they launched fresh Brexit talks in Brussels on Monday, even as bitter infighting gripped the British government.
Brexit minister David Davis met EU negotiator Michel Barnier for a second round of talks ahead of Britain’s historic withdrawal from the bloc, scheduled for March 2019.
But in London there was fresh turmoil as weakened Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to urge her warring ministers to end damaging leaks against each other over Brexit.
“Now it’s time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation,” Davis told reporters as Barnier welcomed him to the headquarters of the European Commission.
During four days of talks the two sides hope to make progress on key issues surrounding Britain’s withdrawal, including citizens’ rights and its exit bill, so that negotiations can move on to discuss a future trade deal later this year.
“For us it’s incredibly important we now make good progress, that we negotiate through this and identify the differences so we can deal with them and identify the similarities so that we can reinforce them,” added Davis.
Barnier, who has repeatedly called on Britain to set out a full divorce strategy, said they needed to “examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress.”
“We’ll now delve into the heart of the matter,” Barnier, a former French foreign minister, told reporters.
Davis, however, stayed only a few hours before returning to Britain for parliamentary business, officials said. He will come back to Brussels on Thursday for more talks with Barnier and a news conference.
Photographs of the brief meeting showed grim-faced EU negotiators with large sheaves of paper across a table from a grinning, empty-handed British team.