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Britain will try to negotiate amicable EU divorce: Brexit paper
02.02.17 20:35 European trends
By Elizabeth Piper | LONDON

Britain will do its utmost to negotiate a divorce deal with the European Union that is mutually beneficial, Brexit minister David Davis said on Thursday, setting out the governments strategy in an official policy document.

The publication of the "White Paper" is part of an attempt by Prime Minister Theresa May to keep lawmakers on side as she launches Britains formal divorce talks with the EU.

Britains future relationship with the EU has split opinion in parliament, where the majority of lawmakers backed remaining in the bloc in last Junes referendum. Some fear May is leading Britain towards a chaotic Brexit, with no framework for future economic and security cooperation.

Introducing the document, Davis defended the government against charges it had offered lawmakers no time to consider its Brexit White Paper which, some said, gave little detail beyond what May has already said.

"We will seek a new strategic partnership. A bold and ambitious free trade and customs agreement that should ensure the most free and frictionless trade in goods and services that is possible," Davis told parliament.

"That will be to our mutual benefit."

PHASING IN IMPLEMENTATION

Davis reiterated Mays priorities in the negotiations, which she wants to launch before the end of March, and the paper offered some detail on how the British government saw the divorce process, suggesting a phased implementation.

Mays spokeswoman said the length of the so-called implementation phase would vary for different sectors.

Britains financial industry welcomed the proposal for phased implementation, which offers firms a few extra years to adapt, but said the paper offered little detail on what kind of access the government wanted to get to the single market.

Malcolm Barr, an economist JP Morgan, said the "shallowness of the analysis and absence of detail are matters of great concern".

Several opposition lawmakers also said the government was keeping parliament in the dark over its plan to leave the EU, a criticism which has been repeated against May who has said she does not want to give away her negotiating hand.

"For months weve been calling for a plan ... now theres a White Paper too late in the day to ask meaningful questions ... That is completely unacceptable," said Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the opposition Labour Party.

Under pressure to give the parliament more say over her plans, May was forced by a Supreme Court ruling to draft a new law giving her the right to trigger Article 50 of the EUs Lisbon Treaty and start the talks.

With a majority in parliament, she cleared the first legislative hurdle for the bill on Wednesday but the new law will face more scrutiny by lawmakers next week.

 
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