The European Union’s chief negotiator on Britain’s exit from the bloc has warned the talks could collapse. Michel Barnier said “everyone needs to plan” for the possible breakdown in Brexit talks.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Barnier said: “It’s not my option, but it’s a possibility. Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are preparing for it technically. A failure of the negotiations would have consequences on multiple domains.”
As reported by the BBC, Barnier has asked the UK to clarify its stance on its financial obligations to the EU if future trade talks are to go ahead in December.
But David Davis, the UK’s Brexit Secretary, made conflicting remarks, suggesting the UK would not have to give a figure for a financial settlement before it could move on to talks about a future trading relationship.
Speaking to Sky News on November 12, he said: “In every negotiation, each side tries to control the timetable. The real deadline on this is, of course, December.”
Davis was referring to the next EU summit which will take place in Brussels in December.
He said British taxpayers “would not want me to just come along and just give away billions of pounds”.
He added: “We’ve been very, very careful, and it’s taking time and we will take our time to get to the right answer.”
In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that British Prime Minister Theresa May said she cannot offer a figure for the financial settlement until her government knows what the future relationship will be. But she also does not want to inflame Brexit campaigners who have suggested Britain walk away.
Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he would not threaten to use a veto on the Brexit talks “at this stage”, but Dublin has called on London to go beyond its promise that a “hard” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will not return.