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Brexit: Theresa May receives Michel Barnier in full division of the executive

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archives – Eddie MULHOLLAND – | British Prime Minister Theresa May, January 17, 2018 in London

UK Prime Minister Theresa May receives EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in London on Monday in a climate of tension within the Conservative government over the directions for Brexit.

Barnier will also meet with Britain’s Minister of Brexit, David Davis. This is the first time since the beginning of the negotiations that the two men meet in the British capital to discuss the Brexit. Until now they had always met in Brussels.

The talks will focus on the “forthcoming negotiations on the implementation period (Brexit)” and on the “next steps for the construction of a new partnership between the EU and the UK”, said the British executive.

In December, London and Brussels reached a preliminary agreement on their divorce, and must now agree on the post-Brexit transition period and the future relationship that will unite the two parties.

The London talks will be held on the eve of the launch of a new round of talks, from Tuesday to Friday in Brussels.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JOHN THYS – | EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on 29 January 2018 in Brussels

From Tuesday to Thursday, discussions between the European and British delegations will focus on technical aspects regarding the UK’s exit from the EU, the border and relationship between the Province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the transitional period, which is scheduled to begin the day after Brexit, scheduled for March 29, 2019, and is expected to last two years.

Friday will be devoted to a meeting of the coordinators of both sides which will allow London to “update” its expectations for the future relationship between the EU and the UK, for which the talks are due to start in March.

Last Monday, the EU had expressed its position to negotiate the post-Brexit transition phase desired by the United Kingdom. The 27 remaining EU countries have approved the principle of “transition + status quo +, but without institutional representation” for the UK, according to Barnier’s assistant Sabine Weyand.

– Plot and warning –

This transitional period continues to be the subject of disagreement within Theresa May’s Conservative Party. Some MEPs fear that the United Kingdom, which will continue to respect European rules during this period without having a say, will become a “vassal State” of the Union.

Some pro-Brexit are also worried that Ms. May may come back on her commitment to leave the customs union, and blame the leader for delaying her intentions.

These topics should be the subject of lively discussions this week at ministerial meetings in London to take stock of the government’s position and described as “potentially explosive” by the British press.

Theresa May finds herself again in the uncomfortable position of having to please some without displeasing others.

Sign of the ambient tension, Sunday Sunday The Sunday Times said it was under threat of a “plot” to bring it down if it was moving towards a lukewarm Brexit.

The leader would then be replaced by his foreign minister, Boris Jonhson, Michael Gove (Environment) becoming deputy prime minister, the ultra-conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg scooping finance. Either three “Brexiters” pure and hard.

And in the Sunday Telegraph, the influential Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, pro-Brexit, warned the Prime Minister against misdirection of the vote of June 23, 2016, calling Theresa May to work for a “net” Brexit, and to keep the influence of its finance minister Philip Hammond, pro-EU.

The latter had sparked the anger of the pro-Brexit saying that the United Kingdom would move away “very modestly” from the European economy after the exit of the union.

These divisions are yet another reminder of Theresa May’s difficulties in imposing her authority since her setback in the June legislative elections, in which the Conservatives lost their absolute majority in the House of Commons.

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