UK, EU Brexit negotiators meet ahead of second phase

UK, EU Brexit negotiators meet ahead of second phase

Kerry Wise
February 7, 2018

The U.K. government said Monday that Britain wouldn't be constrained by the European Union's customs union after Brexit, pleasing right-wingers in the ruling Conservative Party but worrying others who fear it will damage Britain's trade with its major trading partners.

The shock claims come a day after the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier issued a blunt message to Theresa May telling her that "the time has come to make a choice".

Also underlining that the United Kingdom would face "unavoidable barriers to trade" outside customs union and the single market, Barnier said the time had come for the make a choice about what it wants.

"The conditions are clear: Everyone has to play by the same rules during this transition", Barnier said.

Barnier is in London for talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis in Downing Street before meeting briefly with the prime minister.

Welcoming Barnier to Downing Street, Davis described today's meeting as " always".

London and Brussels struck a preliminary deal on key separation issues in December, and this week begin technical talks on a transition period to smooth Britain's withdrawal.

"We are very keen that we continue to have an extremely good and close relationship that we, that relationship be on economic and other grounds, and that it will continue in the long term. And to achieve this, we need by the end of March a joint commitment by the political authorities to a well-defined implementation or transition period which will create the space and support for the regulators to work with firms and political authorities to put practical solutions into place", Bailey said.

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He said civil servants tended to take their lead from ministers, adding "what are officials meant to do" if the Prime Minister was advocating one policy and the Chancellor another.

"We will be leaving the EU and the customs union, and it is not government policy to be members of the customs union or a customs union, " Mrs. As per the speech she gave in September, she dismissed staying in the customs union.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said ministers will not be intimidated by threats from Tory Brexiteers amid fresh warnings of a leadership challenge if Theresa May fails to deliver a "clean Brexit".

"I have a surprise for the Brexiteers..." I think that we will arrive at something which suits us all.

"We want to have a bespoke agreement".

British and European Union negotiators this week hold their first formal Brexit talks since an interim deal in December unlocked discussions on their future relationship.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC that any deal would probably involve some form of customs "arrangement" or "partnership" with the European Union, but said the Prime Minister had an "open mind" as to how that could be achieved. "It is not a matter of scaremongering to get negotiating advantage".

She said that while many people have become disillusioned with free trade - blaming it for growing insecurity - deals bring prosperity to countries.