UK begins negotiations over leaving the EU
David Davis will meet with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to begin talks, insisting Britain is “not turning our backs on Europe”
David Davis - credit: PA
The UK Government will today begin negotiations over leaving the European Union, with Brexit minister David Davis travelling to Brussels insisting Britain is “not turning our backs on Europe”.
A year on from the Brexit vote, Davis will meet with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to begin talks, with a focus on the rights of EU nationals in the UK, alongside those of British citizens living in Europe.
The UK and EU will also discuss financial commitments associated with Brexit, as well as the future of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the negotiations, David said Britain was “not turning our backs on Europe”.
He said: “It’s vital that the deal we strike allows both the UK and the EU to thrive, as part of the new deep and special partnership we want with our closest allies and friends.”
“These talks will be difficult at points, but we will be approaching them in a constructive way.”
And he added: “There should be no doubt – we are leaving the European Union, and delivering on that historic referendum result.
“Now, the hard work begins. We must secure a deal that works for all parts of the United Kingdom, and enables us to become a truly global Britain.”
Ministers are now expected to announce a so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which will transpose EU laws onto the UK statute book, as part of the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.
But after losing her majority at last week’s general election, Theresa May is expected to soften her stance on some aspects of the Brexit negotiations.
The Prime Minister has frequently said that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, but yesterday Chancellor Philip Hammond said quitting the bloc without an agreement would be “a very bad outcome for Britain” and preferable only to a deliberately punitive arrangement.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer meanwhile hit out at the Government's withdrawal position amid the challenges it has faced over the past week.
"I think the prime minister has got us into a complete mess," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.
"She's got no mandate here and she's got no authority abroad and the negotiation starts tomorrow."
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With one year to go until Britain leaves the EU and no sign of a workable plan at either Holyrood or Westminster, what is to be done about Brexit?