Brexit negotiations to start amid ongoing minority gov't talks

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 16.06.2017 23:44

Negotiations between Britain and the European Union will begin on June 19, the two sides announced this week, keeping to the previously envisioned start date of June 19.

The decision to go ahead with the talks comes despite a snap election called by Prime Minister Theresa May having backfired, leaving her with a minority government. Technical talks between EU and British officials on how the negotiations should be conducted already began last week.

Arlene Foster, the head of the small Northern Irish political party in talks to support Theresa May's minority government, said on Friday she wanted a "sensible Brexit" that would work for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Foster's Democratic Unionist Party has been in talks with May's Conservatives after the prime minister's party failed to win a majority in a national election. Foster said talks with May would continue into next week.

"We want to see a Brexit that works for everybody, not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective but in the Republic of Ireland as well, so it is about a sensible Brexit," Foster told reporters in Dublin.

Britain said on Friday that no deal could be struck on exiting the European Union unless the future relationship with the bloc was taken into account.

Prime Minister May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the EU before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

"As we set out in the Article 50 letter, our view is that withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other," a spokesman for Britain's Brexit ministry said.

"We believe that the withdrawal process cannot be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account," the spokesman said. "The withdrawal and future are intimately linked."

While May has repeatedly said she wants a special and deep partnership with the club Britain joined in 1973, she has also laced her assurances with threats that a breakdown of talks could harm security cooperation.

Since her gamble on a snap election failed a week ago, May has come under pressure from some in her own party to change her approach to Brexit talks. Her spokesman said Britain would not change its stance on Brexit, though May told her lawmakers she would seek a broader consensus in the party on her approach.

The Brexit ministry said it wanted to move ahead on securing the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in the European Union.

"That has always been our first aim and that is what we will do," the spokesman said. "We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens."

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