Juncker on Brexit: first financial settlement, then trade talks

Conservative Party MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has launched a staggering verbal attack on Jean-Claude Juncker over the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has called on Brussels to show more "imagination" as it seeks to broker a "new and special partnership" between the United Kingdom and the European Union, words that have been interpreted as an attack on the EU's perceived unwillingness to embrace some of the UK's more creative solution, notably a customs border on the Irish mainland enforced via technological means.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain again on Wednesday that it needs to clarify its position on key issues, as the latest talks continued in Brussels.

It was hoping the papers would persuade the European Union that talks about the future relationship should be brought forward, arguing that divorce issues such as the Irish border will be easier to settle once the terms of a trade deal are clear.

Sitting in for Iain Dale, he said: "It's rather like a ransom, they're treating us like we're a hostage".

'So there is still an enormous amount of issues which remain to be settled. We must start negotiating seriously.

Juncker added: 'First of all we settle the past before we look forward to the future'.

"We believe we're in a good position and we would like to move on to discuss our future relationship", May's spokeswoman told reporters.

Britain has published 11 position papers in total, including four last week, before more than 100 British negotiators travelled to Brussels for the current round of talks.

Davis said on Monday that a series of British position papers released ahead of the talks were "products of the hard work and detailed thinking that has been going on behind the scenes not just the last few weeks but the last 12 months".

A plea for the European Union to show flexibility and hurry talks along was immediately snubbed by Mr Barnier, who accused the United Kingdom of a lack of clarity. He added, "they have made it quite clear that we can not honor the decision of the referendum if we remain in the customs union and the single market".

Downing Street has insisted it is still a chance the EU will back down over its decision to hold off on negotiating the UK's future relationship with the trading bloc, as a series of highly antagonistic interventions from European officials threatened to overshadow this week's talks. I don't think it contributes to making a better atmosphere.

  • Rogelio Becker