Brexit talks hit a wall after three days of negotiation

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The Brexit secretary David Davis (L) with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier
source
Reuters

LONDON – Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union are at deadlock after three days as no breakthrough has been made on citizen’s rights or the divorce bill.

Brexit secretary David Davis is returning to Brussels on Thursday to meet with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, but there has been no progress on the key issues that were designated to be tackled first round of negotiations.

Both sides have a better understanding of each other’s positions on citizen’s rights and the divorce bill, but remain far from a final agreement, the Times reports.

Both the UK government and the EU are keen to clarify the rights and legal status of 4.5 million EU and British citizens living across the continent, but differences remain over whether the European Court of Justice would be involved, and who would be affected.

The issue of how much money Britain must hand over to the EU before it departs is also yet to be resolved. Last week Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested that the EU should “go whistle” following reports that the money owed by UK government in financial obligations could be close to €100 billion. On Wednesday French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said the UK must pay what it owes to the EU before it can start thinking about trade deals post-Brexit.

Le Maire said: “It was Margaret Thatcher who had said to the European Union at the time: ‘We want our money back’

“We can always debate the amount, but the fact the U.K. must pay what it owes to the budget of the European Union – it is a non-negotiable prerequisite at the beginning of the [Brexit] discussions,” the French minister said.

Barnier has reportedly threatened to “stall” Brexit negotiations if the issue of the divorce bill isn’t resolved.

One EU diplomat told Politico: “Financial settlement is the priority. The EU will not walk away from talks but will stall them… the impression we got so far is that the U.K. is not ready for these talks.”

A former UK-EU negotiator told Business Insider this week that Theresa May was handling the negotiations in the “absolute worst way” possible and that he is “baffled” by how unprepared the UK government is for the talks.

“There is a very effective machine behind negotiations with the EU for the UK in general. We have the UK permanent representation containing a lot people who are outstanding and experts in the EU. We have lots of experts in Whitehall. Hundreds of them. There are lots of senior civil servants who have worked extensively with the EU,” Steve Bullock, a former UK negotiator to the EU, told BI.

“And yet we seem to have completely ignored all advice and any concept of there being a strategy.

“If someone had asked me in August ‘okay what would be the absolute worst way to approach this?’ I don’t think I could have done it as badly as government ministers are right now.”