Brexit: UK Gets Two Weeks To Clarify Positions

Michel Barnier

The EU's Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, stated on Sunday that he is "preparing" for the "possibility" that no agreement will be reached with the British government.

Mr Barnier gave United Kingdom officials a two-week deadline to clarify how much Britain is willing to pay before it leaves the union.

The cabinet minister warned that trade talks might not begin in December despite Theresa May announcing last month that she was "confident" trade talks will begin by the end of the year.

He was speaking after meeting the Brexit secretary David Davis for talks on citizens' rights, the Irish border, and the UK's divorce bill.

Barnier emphasized that "this is an essential condition to reach sufficient progress in December", and that the issue is one of "settling the accounts".

If no agreement is reached, come March 29th, 2019, Barnier warned that when leaving the European Union the United Kingdom will become subject to "World Trade Organisation rules, entailing a similar relationship to that which [the European Union has] with China". This would have "consequences in multiple areas", he said, from "the capacity of British planes to land in Europe to that of dogs and cats to cross the Channel".

The paper said the working group was secret because acknowledgement of the existence of a "Plan B" can sometimes precipitate the eventuality it is created to cope with.

Barnier also said both sides had to work towards an "objective interpretation" of May's pledge that no member of the European Union would lose out financially as a result of the Brexit vote. "I would not block the Prime Minister in doing what she believed was right".

Marked "For your and Gavin's eyes only", a reference to the PM's chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, it states: "We are profoundly anxious that in some parts of Government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy".

Mr Gove said he had a duty to ensure his department was "ready for every eventuality" in the talks over Britain's exit.

Barnier said the "unique situation" on the island of Ireland required technical and regulatory solutions necessary to prevent a hard border.

The prime minister said the decision to put the specific time of Brexit on the front page of the bill showed the government was determined to see the process through.

"There will not be a circumstance where aircraft won't fly. there will not be those sorts of failures that people are fearing".

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