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British PM faces some Brexit setbacks

British PM faces some Brexit setbacksTheresa May’s Brexit launch suffered a series of heavy blows after key planks of her opening strategy were point-blank rejected by Europe’s top politicians, according to The Independent on Thursday.

German chancellor Angela Merkel publically dismissed her plan to begin talks on a lucrative trade deal, saying negotiations on Britain’s EU divorce – including a bill potentially hitting €60bn – must come first.

European Parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt then brushed off what was described by others as May’s “blatant threat” to withdraw British terror and crime-fighting cooperation, in order to extract a good trade deal.

Asked if he thought May was engaged in "blackmail", the European Parliament's coordinator for Brexit said: "I try to be a gentleman, so towards a lady I don't even use or think about the word 'blackmail'."

Her Article 50 letter to Brussels repeatedly tied security links to any future agreement and warned that the “fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened” if one cannot be struck.

Back in London the Prime Minister was accused of souring the fledgling Brexit talks with her attempt to tie pan-European security collaboration to any deal.

The fallout followed the delivery of May’s historic letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk, officially notifying him of the UK’s intention to trigger Article 50 and quit the bloc. May was speaking in Parliament as Britain’s Ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow personally passed the letter to Tusk in Brussels at 12:20 pm.

After receiving the letter in front of a display of Union Jack and EU flags, Tusk spoke of his sorrow at Europe’s rupture, telling Britain “we already miss you”.

But the grief quickly gave way to the harsh realities of the European negotiating table, as Merkel poured cold water on one of her British counterpart’s key demands. Speaking to reporters in Berlin, the German leader said negotiations on British divorce terms would take place first and that only then could the much-desired UK-EU trade talks take place.

“The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship... and only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship,” Merkel said.

The force of the EU’s negotiating position, often denied by Brexiteers, was clear as the European Council stood with Merkel in emphasising that divorce terms must be settled first.

That means Britain may be pushed into agreeing to settle its financial “obligations” to Brussels, which may reach €60bn by some estimates, before it can begin to talk about a trade deal that will help secure the country’s economic future.
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