Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Ex-minister warns May against Brexit betrayal

But May's failure to win a majority in last week's election has weakened her position badly and reopened the debate around the Brexit strategy just days before the country opens its divorce talks with Brussels on Monday.

After ten months of planning, Davis will meet with the EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier to agree the structure of the negotiations ahead, so officials have a framework within which to discuss substantive issues.

Anxious by mass immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain a year ago voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-nation bloc in a shock referendum result.

If the United Kingdom opts for a Brexit in which it leaves the Single Market and the Customs Union, the Irish border would become a closed border unless negotiators can agree on creative solutions.

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Prime Minister Theresa May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

The EU wants to secure the rights of more than three million Europeans living in Britain - and over one million Britons living on the continent. May has clung on to power but has so far failed to conclude an agreement with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party that would bolster her ability to govern.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Hammond said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time". The negotiations have been called the most complex in Britain's history as it unravels 44 years of membership and its threat to walk out with no deal in place has anxious European capitals. As the European Union has itself said, "nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed". Business leaders say the uncertainty means they are having to plan on the assumption that Britain leaves without a proper deal.

"We are not turning our backs on Europe", he said in the statement.

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The June 19 negotiations are to start in Brussels 9.00 GMT with 90 minutes of talks between Barnier and Davis, followed by a working lunch between the pair, and a press conference.

The situation in Ireland - where the only land border between the European Union and United Kingdom will lie - will also be discussed.

'My clear view, and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain, is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth, protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations, ' finance minister Philip Hammond said.

The British parliament will hold a rare two-year legislative session to tackle the complexities of Britain's departure from the European Union, the government said Saturday.

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