Brexit trade negotiations delayed by the EU until Xmas

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images.
  • EU confirms that while “internal” talks about a Brexit trade talk will begin, formal negotiations will now not start until the end fo the year.
  • EU leaders agree that the UK has not made “sufficient progress” on divorce issues, required to move onto the next phase of talks.
  • Theresa May says talks are within “touching distance” of agreement on EU citizens rights and other issues.
  • Next phase of negotiations now not expected until Xmas, two months after originally tabled.


LONDON — Brexit trade talks have been delayed until the end of the year after EU leaders agreed that there had not been “sufficient progress” on Britain’s divorce from the EU.

EU Council president Donald Tusk confirmed that the EU would begin internal talks about trade but would not begin formal negotiations with Britain until later in the year.

In a statement, the EU council agreed that trade talks should begin “as soon as possible” but stated that a “firm and concrete commitment” on the financial settlement was required before formal negotiations could begina.

It added that the council would “start internal preparatory discussions” on a trade deal.

EU leaders, who met without May this morning, reportedly took just 90 seconds to agree their position.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, May acknowledged that they “still have some way to go” in negotiations but said they were in “touching distance of a deal” on EU citizens rights and other issues.

The prime minister has reportedly privately agreed with EU leaders to pay up to a €40 billion divorce bill.

Although the UK has made no official commitment to pay the extra money, the prime minister has reportedly privately assured EU leaders that Britain will ultimately agree to pay up once talks progress onto trade.

May told a select group of EU leaders that she is prepared to pay an additional sum of around €20 billion in order to cover commitments which will stretch into future budget rounds.

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