‘Divorce’ bill threatens talks
Both sides conceded the mood was improved after the UK admitted last week that it had debts to the EU. A statement to parliament said the UK had financial “obligations” from its EU membership, defusing a row after foreign affairs minister Boris Johnson said Brussels should “go whistle” for a divorce bill.
“Financial settlement is the priority,” one EU diplomat told Politico. “The EU will not walk away from talks but will stall them. The impression we got so far is that the UK is not ready for these talks.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is yet to give an exact demand.
The EU could threaten to “stall” the Brexit talks if London does not make a serious offer on the bill.
It emerged on the second day of Brexit negotiations in Brussels where 98 British representatives are in talks with 45 EU counterparts to address the rights of EU and UK expats after Brexit, Northern Ireland, the financial package and countless other issues.
The European Commission has said it had no problem with Brexit “bulldog” David Davis (pictured) leaving EU negotiations early, after the chief negotiator was accused of “skulking” away.
Davis left the latest round of talks with Barnier after an hour-long meeting in Brussels on Monday.
The talks are due to last until Thursday.
A photo of Davis sitting opposite a table from Barnier with no papers also sparked claims the Brexit secretary was unprepared.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said: “We do not consider this as a problem and we’re not concerned about it.
“Chief negotiators do not have to be present all the time, these are well-structured talks over a week, so work is ongoing and we do not feel concerned about this.”
There is also a “strong case” for Scotland organising different Brexit arrangements from the rest of the UK, non-elected peers have argued.
The House of Lords EU committee said the move could be necessary if any deal did not reflect Scotland’s needs.
It said this included Scotland setting its own EU immigration targets.
But the committee did not think Scotland could stay in the European single market if England, Wales and Northern Ireland left.
The proposal has been a key demand of Edinburgh but the committee said it was likely to be “politically impracticable, legally highly complex and economically potentially disruptive to the functioning of the UK single market”.
Brexit “bulldog” David Davis. Picture credit: Wikimedia