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EU Says Little Progress Made in Brexit Talks With Britain

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Brexit talks
British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis left, and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier participate in a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels. voa

he European Union’s Brexit negotiator said Thursday that that little progress was made with the U.K. in a fifth round of talks on the country’s departure from the EU in 2019 and that he cannot yet recommend broadening negotiations to include trade.

Michel Barnier said that despite the “constructive spirit” shown in this week’s negotiations in Brussels, “we haven’t made any great steps forward.” On the question of how much Britain has to pay to settle its financial commitments, he said: “We have reached a state of deadlock, which is disturbing.”

Barnier said he would not be able to recommend to EU leaders meeting next week that “sufficient progress” has been made to broaden the talks to future EU-British relations like trade.

The leaders meet in Brussels on Oct. 19-20, and it had been hoped they would agree to widen the talks.

The EU says this can only happen when there has been progress on the issues of the financial settlement, the rights of citizens affected by Brexit and the status of the Northern Ireland-Ireland border.

But Britain says these issues are closely intertwined with their future relations like trade and must be discussed together.

“I hope the member states will see the progress we have made and take a step forward” next week, British Brexit envoy David Davis told reporters.

“We would like them to give Michel the means to broaden the negotiations. It’s up to them whether they do it. Clearly I think it’s in the interests of the United Kingdom and the European Union that they do,” Davis said.

Barnier said the two sides would work to achieve “sufficient progress” in time for a subsequent meeting of EU leaders in December.

Britain must leave the EU on March 29, 2019, but the negotiations must be completed within about a year to leave time for EU states’ national parliaments to ratify the Brexit agreement.(VOA)

 

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Brexit Deadlocked: “The Only Option Is To Find A Way Through Which Allows The U.K. To Leave With A Deal”

Brexit minister Steven Barclay said after the results were announced that the default position was still that Britain would leave the EU on April 12 without a deal, the nightmare scenario for many international businesses.

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Brexit
A pro-Brexit protester demonstrates outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, April 1, 2019. VOA

Britain was no nearer to resolving the chaos surrounding its departure from the European Union after parliament failed on Monday to find a majority of its own for any alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal.

After a tumultuous week in which May’s divorce strategy was rejected by lawmakers for a third time, despite her offer to quit if it passed, the future direction of Brexit remains mired in confusion.

In a bid to break the impasse, lawmakers on Monday voted on four last-minute alternative Brexit options for what is the United Kingdom’s most far-reaching policy change since World War II. All were defeated.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019 in this still image taken from video.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019 in this still image taken from video. VOA

The option that came closest to getting a majority was a proposal to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, which was defeated by three votes.

A proposal for a confirmatory referendum on any deal got the most votes, but was defeated by 292-280.

Brexit minister Steven Barclay said after the results were announced that the default position was still that Britain would leave the EU on April 12 without a deal, the nightmare scenario for many international businesses.

“The only option is to find a way through which allows the UK to leave with a deal,” Barclay told parliament.

He hinted that May could put her deal to a fourth vote this week in the hope of securing an orderly exit before European elections are held from May 23 onwards.

“If the house were to agree a deal this week, it would still be possible to avoid holding European parliamentary elections,” Barclay said.

Sterling Falls

Sterling fell almost 1 percent to $1.3048, after the vote results were read out by the speaker, John Bercow, to stand around 0.5 percent lower on the day.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announces the results of a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019, in this still image taken from video.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announces the results of a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019, in this still image taken from video. VOA

Last Friday, the third defeat of May’s own withdrawal agreement left one of the weakest British leaders in a generation facing a spiraling crisis over Brexit.

Her government and her Conservative Party, which has been trying to contain a schism over Europe for 30 years, are now riven between those who are demanding that May pilot a decisive break with the bloc and those demanding that she rule out such an outcome.

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If May were to throw her weight behind either camp, she would risk tearing her party apart and bringing down the government. Some Conservative lawmakers have warned they will support a motion of no confidence if she accepts calls for a Brexit that maintains many of the existing close economic ties with the EU.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29 but the political deadlock in London forced May to ask the bloc for a delay. As things stand, Britain will now depart at 2200 GMT on April 12 – unless May comes up with another viable option. (VOA)