Brexit talks facing slight delay, David Davis reveals

Nick Mcbride
June 14, 2017

Britain's government must heed the concerns of businesses who are anxious that they will not be able to find the staff that they need once the country leaves the European Union, the head of the leading employers' group the CBI said on Monday.

"When the facts change, I'll change my mind", said Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Scottish insurer and asset manager Standard Life, borrowing a quote from economist John Maynard Keynes.

The EU meanwhile unveiled plans to give itself new powers over London's banking business after Brexit, in what could be a blow to the city's supremacy as a global financial hub.

British voters failed to deliver a widely expected parliamentary majority for the Conservative party in Thursday's general election, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May just days ahead of hard Brexit talks with the EU.

May's authority has been weakened after her gamble in calling an early election backfired, leaving her increasingly dependent on fellow Conservatives who object to her plan for a clean break from the EU. They want to maintain single market and/or customs union membership much as Norway or Switzerland now enjoy and are prepared to pay into the EU budget.

"With regard to technical talks, we are quite confident that they can start soon, even this week, and our understanding is that there is a shared willingness on the British side to move ahead with these technical talks", European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told reporters in Brussels on Monday.

May called for a snap election in April to gain a bigger majority than the seats her Conservative party had at the time.

But without the strong mandate Mrs May had hoped for, and with no majority, the UK's strategy for negotiating Brexit has been thrown into uncertainty. "Hopefully we can make a bit more progress today", he said.

As EU President Donald Tusk said on Friday, there's "no time to lose".

"The campaign was not a good one", Davis conceded, but argued May was good at being in government, if not campaigning. "We would be foolish to hold off on our plans". Nearly a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, talks are yet to begin, and the expected date for the exit is about 21 months away, giving little time for a new government to plan its stand.

With the two-year clock on Brexit ticking since March, when a letter from May formally started proceedings, Barnier dismissed the suggestion of postponing the negotiations and said such a delay would prompt only further instability. Safeguarding trade would be more important a goal than it was before.

"I hope that the general election (in the UK) will mean a time-out, a pause in the direction the United Kingdom was taking, and a chance to rethink how the United Kingdom and EU27 will go forward", the minister added.

Other reports by VgToday

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