UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

Posted June 19, 2017

"The EU can only negotiate once the United Kingdom has come to a consensus on how to proceed - which will only happen once British politicians openly debate Brexit's dilemmas", said Simon Tilford, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform.

Of course, the government is not only beleaguered by its post-election hiatus but by the growing anger over its response to this week's Grenfell Tower fire disaster - with May criticized for failing to meet victims' families and politicians facing anger in the streets from local residents.

He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership of the single market or the customs union.

And the source told the BBC that it was understood the talks would broadly follow the EU's preferred sequence, dealing with issues of citizens' rights and a framework for calculating outstanding financial liabilities before moving on, possibly later in the year, to deal with the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Sir Keir said the loss of Mrs May's overall majority in the June 8 General Election meant that Parliament could no longer be "marginalised" in the Brexit process.

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"The question is not whether we're leaving the Customs Union, the question is what do we put in its place in order to deliver the objectives, which the Prime Minister set out in the Lancaster House speech, of having no hard land border in Ireland, and enabling British goods to flow freely backwards and forwards across the border with the European Union".

"We will build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans and that means giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to scrutinise these bills by holding a two-year session of Parliament", she said. Opponents describe that as a "hard Brexit".

One analysis of the vote's outcome points to a "softer" Brexit, one that leaves Britain with some degree of privileged trade access to the EU's massive, tariff-less single market.

If the chastened prime minister and Brexit Secretary David Davis take a gentler tone when talks finally launch in Brussels next week, they could win valuable concessions, some think. DOG'S BREAKFAST While Britain's economy has shown unexpected resilience since the Brexit vote, there are signs of weakness.

"It is good that the British government thinks about the rights of European Union citizens in Great Britain", Verhofstadt said. But it's far from clear what its negotiating position will be when they get underway.

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"Under "soft" Brexit, HSBC believes that such relative advantage would be diluted".

The Commission said on Friday: "The opening of negotiations at political level next week will focus on issues related to citizens' rights, the financial settlement, the Northern Irish border and other separation issues, as part of the sequenced approach to the talks". The extent of Britain's exit bill needs to be decided, with the EU27 expected to seek tens of billions of euros they see as London's fair share of programs to which it has committed.

Barnier wants agreement on the withdrawal, and on a transitional path to a future relationship, by October 2018, so that the European and British parliaments can ratify the deal by Brexit day in March 2019.

Later next week, Barnier will debrief the EU 27 leaders on the first round of talks, who will in Brussels for the traditional June EU summit.

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