Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Pound weakens on political discord ahead of Brexit negotiations

Pound weakens on political discord ahead of Brexit negotiations

"I look forward to our negotiations this week", said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, while giving a "warm welcome" to his United Kingdom counterpart, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier will press UK Brexit Secretary David Davis to agree to Britain covering substantial, existing British financial commitments and offer more detail on Britain's approach, clouded by infighting within May's cabinet.

U.K. Secretary of State David Davis said at the start of the four-day session Monday that "it is incredibly important we now make good progress". In a tacit acknowledgment that last month's opening of negotiations had achieved little, Davis said it was now crucial to "get into the substance of the matter".

Negotiators will focus on key issues concerning Britain's withdrawal, including citizens' rights, Britain's exit bill and the border in Northern Ireland.

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This week's talks are also set to address more detailed concerns such as Britain's future in Euratom, the EU's nuclear safety agency, and the role of the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court.

European Union leaders have already rejected Mrs May's "generous offer" to European Union citizens in the United Kingdom as falling short, insisting it will deprive them of some current rights.

Earlier on Sunday, finance minister Philip Hammond had said senior British government ministers were becoming convinced of the need for transitional arrangements to reduce disruption as Britain leaves the EU.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson then fanned the flames when he said in the Commons that Brussels could "go whistle" if it expected the United Kingdom to pay a hefty "divorce bill" in respect of its outstanding financial obligations.

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Crucially, last month, Mr Davis caved in to the EU's insistence that the talks would move on to trade only when "enough progress" had been made on Brussels' three priorities.

The rowing will be seen as further evidence of Theresa May's weakness after seeing her Commons majority wiped out in last month's general election.

Mr Grayling said the suggestion that there were "profound and fundamental differences" between Cabinet ministers on Brexit were "a bit exaggerated", but admitted: "We're not a group of clones, we have discussions around the Cabinet table and outside Cabinet, we debate issues, we decide what's right and then we get on with it".

Finance minister Philip Hammond has emerged as the champion of a "soft Brexit" prioritising trade ties with the European Union over curbing immigration.

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"I hope very much that people will look at that offer in the spirit it deserves", he told reporters. "The clock is ticking", he said once again last Wednesday.

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