Roundup: Britain, EU still wide apart on divorce settlement

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-06 03:59:17|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs in the House of Commons Tuesday that significant differences remain between the European Union (EU) and the government over Britain's so-called divorce settlement when it leaves the bloc.

Addressing politicians on their first day back at Westminster following the summer break, Davis said it's clear Britain and the EU will have financial obligations to each other that will survive Britain's exit from the EU.

But he said it is also clear the two sides have very different legal stances, noting that "the settlement should be in accordance with law and in the spirit of the UK's continuing partnership with the EU".

Davis added: "We should not underestimate the usefulness of the process so far. But it is also clear that there are still significant differences to be bridged in this sector."

He told the Commons that while last week's negotiations in Brussels had at times been tough, it was clear concrete progress had been made on many important issues.

"The days of making vast yearly contributions to the EU budget will end when we leave. But there may be programs that the UK wants to consider participating in as part of the new partnership that we seek."

He said Britain and Brussels need to discuss them as part of talks both on the withdrawal from the EU and Britain's future as its long-standing friend and closest neighbor.

The latest round of talks focused on rights of citizens on both sides, Northern Ireland and Ireland, the question of a financial settlement and a number of technical separation issues.

Davis said there have been significant steps forward in citizen's rights, with a high degree of convergence on a number of issues affecting British citizens in EU countries and European citizens living and working in Britain.

"The outcomes of these discussions demonstrate that we have delivered on our commitment to put citizens first and to give them as much certainty as early as possible in this process. Of course, there remain areas of difference which we continue to work on," said Davis.

Davis said his Brexit team will publish further position papers in the coming weeks, continuing to set out Britain's ambition for the next negotiations.

Answering questions from MPs, Davis said there will be a vote in the House of Commons on the final EU settlement, saying his expectation was that the argument over money will go on for the full duration of the negotiations.

"There will be a vote. The House can reflect its view on the whole deal, including the money," insisted Davis.

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the level of progress on key issues was a "cause for concern".

He said Britain and the EU have now reached the point "where fantasy meets brutal reality, with too many promises about Brexit made that can't be kept".

Starmer has indicated that Labour party will vote against the government in a crucial debate which starts Thursday on a repeal bill to switch all EU law into British law from the day when Britain leaves the EU.

Political commentators say the vote will be a big test of the way prime minister Theresa May is leading Britain's journey out of the EU after more than 40 years of membership.