Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

The European Commission said the one-day meeting between its chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit Secretary David Davis will take place "as part of the sequenced approach to the talks" set out by the EU, which require progress to be made on withdrawal arrangements before any talks on trade can begin. "It continues and when the deal is done, it will be done", a senior source in the Conservative Party said on Thursday.

British finance minister Philip Hammond said Britain should adopt a pragmatic approach to Brexit negotiations which begin on Monday, striking a different tone to Prime Minister Theresa May who has threatened to leave the European Union without a deal if necessary. "That is why we are pushing ahead with negotiations on Monday".

An opinion poll for YouGov in the Evening Standard on Thursday showed that 70 percent of respondents still wanted to leave the European Union, while 23 percent said May should tone down plans.

Brussels has insisted talks on the so-called divorce, taking in issues including the fee the United Kingdom will have to pay to sever its ties, must make sufficient progress before any discussion on a future trade agreement could begin.

The Chancellor declined to comment on whether he supported Britain's continued membership of the EU single market or customs union.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government's priority in the negotiations should be to protect jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

May gambled that a strong election win, as forecast by some pollsters, would boost her majority in the House of Commons in time for the Brexit talks, but instead, her party surrendered 13 seats in the lower chamber.

Monday's negotiations are to open at 11:00am in Brussels (0900 GMT) with 90 minutes of talks between Barnier and Davis, followed by a working lunch between the pair and a press conference.

Hammond, who may be in the vanguard of the shift, said in Luxembourg that he favors a "pragmatic" Brexit that safeguards jobs and the economy.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: "The Conservatives can not go from weak and wobbly to business as usual in three days". "It's a unity of objective, having voted to leave the European Union, that their government gets on with that and makes a success of it". "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".

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