David Davis Says Brexit Talks In Brussels About 'substance'

David Davis has rejected the EU’s timetable for Brexit talks, saying that the UK would be disadvantaged by an early agreement regarding its financial obligations and the future status of the Northern Irish border.

“That’ll be the row of the summer,” the Brexit secretary said on Sunday.

The EU has earmarked three issues that it says will require an early agreement in the Brexit negotiations: the rights of EU nationals living in the UK; the UK’s “exit” payment to the EU; and the Northern Irish border. Mr Davis said the EU’s proposed timetable would back Britain into a corner on the two latter issues, which he called “the most difficult bit” of negotiations.

“How on earth do you resolve the issue of the border with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland unless you know what our general borders policy is, what the customs agreement is, what our trade agreement is?” he told ITV’s Robert Peston. “It’s wholly illogical.”

The UK would only look for an early agreement on migrants’ rights by “early autumn”, but would otherwise argue that nothing was agreed until everything was agreed, he said.

The build-up to formal Brexit talks has been disrupted by the UK general election campaign and by controversy surrounding the leaked details of a dinner attended by Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker last month.

Nevertheless on Sunday Mr Davis gave some detail on how EU nationals living in the UK might be treated after Brexit, saying that the government wanted an agreement that “effectively freezes” their rights.

“They’ll have the right to welfare, the right to healthcare, the right to pensions, as they would if they were permanent residents,” he said. “The only rights they wouldn’t have are those citizenship rights — the right to vote in a general election.”

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EU citizens in the UK currently enjoy a wider range of rights than non-EU permanent residents, including those relating to recognition of their qualifications and receiving welfare payments from abroad. It is unclear from Mr Davis’s formulation whether the government will look to maintain such relative advantages for EU nationals.

The Brexit secretary added: “There will be an argument over the final detail … such as whether the European Court of Justice oversees their rights after we’ve left … We’ll have an argument about that.”

Mr Davis suggested there would be little progress in Brexit negotiations during the summer months, saying it was the “least useful time in dealing with Brussels”.

Mrs May has argued that winning a large Conservative majority in June’s election will strengthen her negotiating position with Brussels.

Source : https://www.ft.com/content/01396086-38ae-11e7-821a-6027b8a20f23

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