Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Brexit 'uncertainty' can't go on, says EU's Verhofstadt

Brexit 'uncertainty' can't go on, says EU's Verhofstadt

United Kingdom officials met with representatives from the European Commission in Brussels in an effort to agree on how to structure Brexit negotiations amid uncertainty in London over Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for a post-election government. "We have to recognise that the election changed if not everything, then a very great deal, and the government are going to have to respond to that".

Meanwhile, Mr Verhofstadt also said in the news conference that Donald Trump's visit to Europe "was a disaster".

Barnier said he wants negotiations wrapped up by November 2018 in order to give Governments time to ratify it and dismissed suggestions that the March 2019 deadline could be extended, the Financial Times reports.

Formal negotiations between Barnier and British Brexit minister David Davis had been due to start next week but that timetable has been thrown into doubt by May's catastrophic loss of a majority in last Thursday's election.

One senior pro-EU lawmaker who attended a party meeting with May - and who herself opposed Brexit previous year - said the prime minister told them she wanted to build a "consensus" on how to pull out of current arrangements with Britain's main trading partner.

Barnier says his mission is to preserve the unity on the issue of Brexit and the Financial Times reports his corridor is lined with the flags of the European Union, minus the UK.

Top EU and British figures held "talks about talks" on Brexit Monday but failed to nail down a date for the start of negotiations amid the fallout from Britain's chaotic election, officials said.

"It may not be on the Monday because we also have got the Queen's Speech that week and I will have to speak in that, and so on".

The top civil servant in Davis's Brexit ministry, Oliver Robbins, and Britain's EU envoy met chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier over lunch, EU and British officials said.

In a sign of the confusion, the furthest the two sides have managed to progress is to have what a European Commission spokesman called "talking about talks" in a bid to move forward. "As of yet, no date for opening the negotiations has been agreed", an European Union official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The first bit of it - Brussels want to do the so-called divorce proceedings first - the first bit of that includes European citizens in the UK".

Cars, for example, would be subject to a 10% tariff, liquefied natural gas would be tariffed 4.1% and wheat products just under 13%. I think now we are in a longer period of uncertainty. No one is laughing, the European Union source told Sky News.

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