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Where is the ball? UK and EU exchange volleys over Brexit

10 October 2017
Where is the ball? UK and EU exchange volleys over Brexit

"The Business Advisory Council is an important part of our preparations for leaving the European Union - allowing us to seek the views of experienced business leaders and to share with them the government's vision for a successful Brexit".

And Ingo Kramer, president of the Confederation of German employers' associations (BDA), told the same newspaper that "the cohesion of the remaining 27 European Union member states has the highest priority".

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blasted the lack of progress in the 16 months since the referendum in June past year.

Regional politicians in Wales and Scotland have also railed against the bill, claiming the new law was a power grab by Westminster that is against their interests. "It will not remove it, it will definitely be a cost and the question is can we negotiate enough market access so that that cost is at the margin, is a few thousand people and not tens of thousands".

However, he believed "concrete progress" had been made. In Brussels, it has been repeatedly made clear earlier that negotiations with London in all four previous rounds have come to a standstill, primarily because the British side was withdrawing from the discussion of the financial issue.

United Kingdom business has been calling for this for months, even as recently as the Party Conference season when a number of business groups have said their members fear for the future of the economy while no clear plan for our exit is being discussed.

However, the chief negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, appears to be holding onto a rather inflexible stance even now.

Another senior official said: "There's every reason to be anxious and European industry should take this more seriously".

As a fifth round of talks was opening in the Belgian capital, Theresa May called for "flexibility" on both sides so they can move forward to the second phase - including a free trade deal.

Describing as "unbelievable arrogance" Britain's offers to pay just 20 billion euros ($30 billion) of a "Brexit bill" which the European Union estimates at perhaps 60 billion euros ($90 billion), a senior diplomat from a country Britain generally views as an ally in European Union affairs said Ms May would have to face down hardliners who rejected such payments.

"He is a big intellect, a big figure in the party and if the Prime Minister believes he is the right person to be Foreign Secretary then she has my full support", she said.

61-year-old British PM Theresa May offered concessions in her speech in Florence but the pressure still hasn't detached from the negotiators to uplift the progress and diminish the uncertainty for businesses and citizens in the Britain and Europe.

Anyhow we're not expecting anything new but plenty of peacock-suiting as May tries to re-assert her authority both at home and overseas.

For many, ending with a legal void remains far-fetched.

May has raised the prospect of a two-year transition.

"Pretty soon", said one, "it will be Norway or nothing".