PM May to assume control of Brexit talks

Hugh Fox
July 25, 2018

The Brexit Secretary played down the "shifting of the Whitehall deckchairs" which confirmed Prime Minister Theresa May is taking personal control of the talks with the European Union.

The latest round of talks will continue on Thursday when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab holds another meeting with Michel Barnier.

But he added that a series of "technical notices" would be published over the summer setting out the possible impact of a no deal Brexit on businesses, British expats and European Union citizens in the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in December to a financial settlement totalling £35 to £39 billion ($46-51 billion, 39-44 billion euros) that ministers said depended on agreeing future trade ties.

"You can't have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side".

Also in the session, Robbins revealed that teams from the Cabinet Office Europe Unit as well as from the Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for International Trade, have been working together to achieve "as frictionless trade as possible between the United Kingdom and the European Union".

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Under the current timetable, both London and Brussels hope to get a final Brexit deal in October to give enough time to ratify it by Brexit day next March, though few diplomats expect the deal to be struck until months later.

Asked by committee member Jacob Rees Mogg about the changes, Robbins said there had been two teams of civil servants since his move from DExEU to the Cabinet Office - one advising the prime minister and one advising the Brexit secretary.

Part of the Government's planning for a "no-deal Brexit" involves securing supplies of food and medicines.

Despite the prospects of tighter monetary policy from the Bank of England, the pound has weakened nearly 3 per cent this year against a resurgent dollar as patchy United Kingdom data and the lack of clarity on Brexit negotiations weighed.

Speaking in the northern English city of Newcastle, May told factory workers that Britain was making sure it was ready for a no-deal Brexit but that she was working to get an agreement that the British parliament would support.

"What we have got is the officials hitherto who have been informing and supporting the negotiation in once place, with a ministerial chain of command clearly set out".

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'So, I think we do need to make sure that there's some conditionality between the two'.

A no-deal Brexit would damage British relations with Europe for a generation, Jeremy Hunt warned as he pleaded for Brussels to show more flexibility in negotiations.

Maas declined to comment on the threat from Britain's lead negotiator on Brexit that London might not pay its 39 billion pound ($51 billion) divorce bill if no trade agreement with the European Union is reached.

"There must be a firm commitment in the withdrawal agreement requiring the framework for the future relationship to be translated into legal text as soon as possible", Mr Raab told MPs.

Germany's foreign ministry is proposing that Britons who apply for German citizenship before the end of the Brexit transition period should be able to keep both passports.

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