Brexit negotiations will be tough and intense, David Davis warned


22 November, 2016

The government has stressed that Davis will not seek to start negotiations with the European Union, which can only begin once the United Kingdom has triggered Article 50, but to "lay the ground" for a "constructive dialogue".

Verhofstadt added that anything that puts in danger the EU's four primary freedoms would not be compromised. "That takes a few months so the window for negotiations in fact, if you look to it more in detail, is more or less 14-15 months, let's be honest", Verhofstadt said. For us it's clear: "the four fundamental freedoms are not negotiable", said Weber, head of the centre-right European People's Party.

The build up to the meeting was dominated by comments Mr Davis had made earlier this year in which he appeared to liken Mr Verhofstadt, who is an ardent supporter of a United States of Europe, to the devil.

Davis signaled at the Strasbourg meeting that the United Kingdom wants to retain access to the European single market, according to Weber, who repeated the stance of the rest of the 28-nation bloc that such a privilege requires accepting the EU's tenet on the free movement of people.

"I want to begin the work of ensuring we have positive, strong, and productive relationship with our closest neighbours", Davis said. "There is no idea what Brexit really means".

The Belgian MEP, who leads the liberal group in the European Parliament, said Brexit could not mean enjoying the benefits of EU membership while imposing curbs on migration.

MPs are only likely to be given a say on triggering Article 50 if the Government loses its Supreme Court challenge on whether the Prime Minister alone has the authority to fire the starting gun on the Brexit process. "I have not received any new information, quite the opposite is true".

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After meeting with the European Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, yesterday (21 November), Davis travelled to Strasbourg to meet with the Frenchman's European Parliament counterpart, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt.

"What we really expect are clear proposals".

Responding to Mr Weber's suggestion that Mr Davis had indicated the United Kingdom wants to stay in the single market, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The Government's position hasn't changed on this".

The European Parliament will not accept an agreement for Britain's exit from the European Union that would endanger any of the four EU freedoms, including the freedom of movement of people, parliament's negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said on Tuesday.

Mr Verhofstadt said the exit process would have to be concluded around two years after triggering Article 50, the official notification of Britain's intention to leave the European Union, which is expected in March.

The talks will come after British Prime Minister Theresa May hinted the United Kingdom government would seek a transitional deal to split from the EU.

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