Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deal Talks Can Begin If Divorce Well on -Tusk

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deal Talks Can Begin If Divorce Well on -Tusk

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Woodcock and Shaun Connolly Reporters

NEGOTIATIONS on future trade between the UK and EU could begin as early as this autumn, European Council president Donald Tusk has indicated. But the move will only take place once "sufficient progress" has been achieved in talks on the arrangements for Britain's withdrawal, widely seen as a reference to agreement on a "divorce bill" of an estimated PS50bn set to be presented to the UK.

Unveiling draft negotiating guidelines for withdrawal talks, Mr Tusk insisted Brussels will take a "constructive" approach and wants to keep the UK as a "close partner".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said it showed "a lot of goodwill, a lot of willingness to achieve what the Prime Minister has said she wants to achieve, which is an orderly transition and then a deep and special partnership".

But critics pointed to the council's rejection of British pleas for parallel trade and divorce talks and sectorby-sector deals on access to the single market, as well as its insistence the UK won't be allowed to cut separate deals with individual EU states. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Theresa May had been "taken to Tusk", as the guidelines showed "the strength of the EU in these negotiations and the carelessness of the UK government in isolating themselves from our European allies". Labour MP Owen Smith, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said: "Two days into a twoyear negotiation and the government's lofty rhetoric is colliding with hard reality. The Prime Minister's plan for Britain is a pipe dream." Speaking in Malta, Mr Tusk predicted withdrawal negotiations would be "difficult, complex and sometimes even confrontational".

A first phase would seek to disentangle Britain from its commitments and ties with the EU and resolve the status of expatriate citizens, before moving on to a second phase establishing the terms of future EU-UK relations. He said: "The EU27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is already punitive enough.

"After more than 40 years of being united, we owe it to each other to do everything we can to make this divorce as smooth as possible. …

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