European Union plans Brexit summit gesture, May hints on cash

Your round Jean Claude Juncker says it's time for Britain to pay to leave the EU
Credit EPA

Your round Jean Claude Juncker says it's time for Britain to pay to leave the EU Credit EPA

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday that Britain must "pay" for its financial commitments to start Brexit trade talks, comparing it to someone trying to leave a bar after a round of beers.

"The British are discovering, as we are, day after day new problems".

"The Brexit process will last longer than we anticipated", Juncker said.

On the question of Britain's "divorce bill" - which he previously suggested could come to around £50 billion - Mr Juncker said: "We can't find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the United Kingdom are concerned".

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He said: "My mandate looked ahead to these different stages.Slowly but surely, over the next few weeks, I will explore ways of getting out of this deadlock we find ourselves in on the financial issues with a view to making sufficient progress by the next European Council".

Brexit talks are deadlocked over money, the EU's Michel Barnier said on Thursday as he ruled out discussions on future trade being launched by European Union leaders next week but spoke of possible progress by December.

"I hope the member states will see the progress we have made and take a step forward" next week, British Brexit envoy David Davis told reporters. "I'm not hating the British", he concluded. London has been hoping and pressing for the two processes to go simultaneously.

While hardliners would prefer less or no talk of a future after Brexit and more about demanding money, others are keen to give May, beleaguered at home, something to show for the effort to compromise she displayed in a speech at Florence last month. "But not they have to pay".

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"If this is the concession May needs to be able to make a move on financial settlement, let's try it", said a diplomat from one of Britain's close European Union trading partners. The Europeans have to be grateful for so many things Britain has brought to Europe before war, during war, after war.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also indicated she might make a move at next week's summit.

It echoes Mr Barnier's concerns that a "disturbing" deadlock over the size of Britain's exit bill means it is not yet time to move on to negotiations over the future UK/EU relationship.

The issue of citizens' rights is one of the main issues to be dealt with during the negotiations, along with the land borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and Gibraltar and Spain.

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