Britain "surprised" EU unclear on its position over transition period

Michael Gove Jean Claude Juncker Donald Tusk

While UK recognizes that the right of free movement of persons will fully apply during the transition period, it does not want to extend those rights to people who arrived during the period.

A pre-Brexit transition period that has been demanded by the City's financial services firms may never actually happen as the gap between the United Kingdom and European Union could be too wide to reach an agreement, the bloc's chief negotiator warned today.

Mr Barnier said time was "very short" for both sides to strike a deal to stop a cliff-edge departure on Brexit day.

David Davis told parliament that regulatory alignment would not mean adopting exactly the same rules as the European Union but "mutually recognised" rules and inspections.

Barnier, in Brussels, outlined his views of talks in London this week over a deal between the two when Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019. It means that the positon of expats is now thrown into doubt from the period from Brexit happening in March next year and a 20 month transition period. "We have been clear all the way through that you can't be in the customs union if you are not in the EU", it read.

And don't bank on a transition period (which was supposed to be the easy bit to agree) as there's still plenty we don't see eye-to-eye on. And the Prime Minister is absolutely right. Time to talk straight and put flesh on the bones.

Soros, who was born in Hungary but made his way to London as Communists consolidated power in Budapest, said a year ago that Britain was approaching a tipping point that would see the economy slow to such an extent that Brexit might even be reversed.

Michel Barnier and David Davis
GettyMichel Barnier and David Davis met this week in Downing Street for talks

According to the report, the best-case scenario is a single market deal, but this would still stall economic growth by 2 percent.

Barnier added that three "substantial" disagreements remain with between Downing Street and Brussels over plans for a transition period after Brexit, adding: "If these disagreements persist the transition is not a given". "I hope we will be able to resolve these disagreements in the next round".

It is necessary to avoid a "hard" border, to preserve north-south cooperation on the island and protect the Good Friday Agreement from 1998 which ended sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

"That means seeking to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during that period".

Barnier said that Prime Minister Theresa May's government has still has not outlined what future ties between Brussels and London should look like after Brexit despite constant requests for more clarity.

She secured an agreement on withdrawal - including avoiding the return of a hard Irish border - in December.

Mr Coveney said there was no uncertainty over what had been agreed on the border. The EU position is logical.

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