Saturday, 24 June, 2017

EU's Tusk, Britain's May meeting for Brexit talks in London

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May PM suggests free movement extension
Saul Franklin | 16 April, 2017, 02:57

Barnier said Prime Minister Theresa May's letter a week ago to trigger the two-year exit process was clearly a call for two parallel negotiations, one on how Britain quits the bloc and another on its future trade relationship with the EU.

To the surprise and dismay of ministers, his draft negotiating guidelines called for Spain to be given a veto over post-Brexit decisions about the Rock.

"Without an economic impact assessment of "no deal" and without evidence that steps are being taken to mitigate the damaging effect of such an outcome, the government's assertion that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is unsubstantiated", said Hilary Benn, chairman of the Committee on Exiting the EU.

"You will set the tone for Britain", the bloc's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told MEPs in Strasbourg, France, just before the vote.

But speaking during her trip to Saudi Arabia, May insisted Britain would be controlling its own immigration policy.

European Union lawmakers also called for phased negotiations, in which divorce terms are settled before a new trade deal is secured.

But Tusk has said he won't allow it to be a bargaining chip for a trade deal.

May and Tusk also discussed the upcoming Brexit negotiations, which will begin in earnest next month.

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The guidelines to be voted on Wednesday already have the support of not only the EPP but also of the Socialists and Democrats alliance, as well as the ALDE liberals, the Greens and the leftist parliamentary group GUE.

"She said the United Kingdom looked forward to formally beginning negotiations once the 27 member states agreed guidelines", he said.

The EPP's German leader Manfred Weber told the assembly "we want a fair and constructive atmosphere", but warned Britain can not get a better deal leaving than staying inside the bloc.

Mr Tusk's response to the letter caused anger after he suggested that Spain - which claims sovereignty of Gibraltar - should be able to veto its inclusion in any future trade deal between the European Union and Britain.

But no reference to Gibraltar was contained in the adopted resolution.

The move caused fury in Gibraltar - which accused the European Union of "bullying" - while former Conservative Party leader Lord Howard even suggested Mrs May could go to war to defend the Rock. "You think we are a hostage, we are not, we are free to go".

The parliament's Italian chief Antonio Tajani interrupted Farage to say it was "unacceptable" for him to compare the parliament to the mafia.

Mr Farage also told MEPs that if the EU tried to impose tariffs on exports from the UK, Britons could boycott European goods.

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