Politics

TOOK YOUR TIME! Barnier finally admits EU is ready to SPEED UP Brexit negotiations

Michel Barnier.

Michel Barnier plans to move brexit talks forward

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator said that the agenda and dates for the next round of Brexit talks would be set "in next few hours or days".

The announcement today could be a sign the EU is finally trying to move forward with talks after weeks of impasse between Mr Barnier and the UK's representative David Davis.

The Eurocrat held meetings with British arch-Remainers in Brussels yesterday as the Brexit deadlock continued.

Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke and Andrew Adonis at the debate in the EU capital, where they are believed to have discussed “future scenarios” and “the direction of talks”.

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The former deputy prime minister, who has known Barnier for at least a decade, organised the meeting on Monday in a last-ditch attempt to show Brussels that Britain is supposedly not behind Theresa May’s version of Brexit.

But a European Commission source said: “There is a negotiating process, two negotiators.

“On the one side is the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis; and on the European side is the chief negotiator of the EU, Michel Barnier.

“Nobody else.”

Brexit news: Jean Claude Juncker & Michel Barnier.

Brexit news: Jean Claude Juncker & Michel Barnier may move on talks

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The EU hopes to finish covering the principles of the divorce and the exit terms between October and December 2017.

If the talks make enough progress, the EU has said that both sides can begin to start talking about their future relationship.

But DEXEU officials are frustrated with the stop-start nature of the brief, three day negotiation rounds which have so far failed to yield sufficient results in order to move onto future trade talks.

A UK source told the Telegraph: “Three days of intensive talks is not an effective way to deal with the business, particularly at the end of the negotiation.

“We need to create an administrative process that gives both sides room to move.”

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures prior to the 'Tour de table' of the Tallinn Digital Summit during a European Union summit in Tallinn, Estonia AFP/. Images

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures prior to the 'Tour de table' of the Tallinn Digital Summit during a European Union summit in Tallinn, Estonia

Today Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman backed Mr Barnier's announcement as they said Britain's preparations for leaving the European Union are accelerating significantly.

And they described the cabinet of senior ministers as united in seeking a Brexit deal from the EU.

Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, said during a recent visit to the Czech Republic: “We are offering a great deal on citizens, a great deal on money and an unconditional commitment to the defence of Europe.

“Let’s hope we can move this thing forward and get these negotiations going.”

However Cabinet ministers are preparing to discuss the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, amid reports the Bank of England has warned quitting could cost up to 75,000 financial services jobs.

Discussions at the regular meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May's top team are expected to be dominated by Brexit, with "all contingencies" to be looked at as progress is assessed.

David Davis, UK's Brexit negotiator.

David Davis, UK's Brexit negotiator, will be pleased with the news

Brexit talks - David Davis and Michel Barnier.

The EU hopes to finish covering the exit terms by the end of the year

It comes as senior figures at the Bank said estimates over job losses were a "reasonable scenario", particularly if the UK leaves without special arrangements for the sector, according to the BBC.

However up to 5,000 extra staff are to be recruited by HM Revenue and Customs next year to deal with EU withdrawal, Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Cabinet this afternoon.

Mr Davis said the move was part of an ongoing process which had already seen nearly 3,000 posts created across Government to support Brexit efforts.

The Brexit Secretary told fellow ministers that 300 lawyers have been recruited to the Government legal department in the past year.

Barnier's announcement today comes after it was revealed former UKIP leader and Brexit champion Nigel Farage has written to Mr Barnier for one-to-one talks in a bid to speed up negotiations.

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Unhappy with the way current Government talks are progressing, Mr Farage read out his open letter on his LBC radio show, saying: “Dear Monsieur Barnier, as you appear to be conducting a series of meetings with UK political figures on the issue of Brexit I wish to make a request.

“As leader of the party UKIP, which won the European Elections of 2014 I would like to hold a meeting with you in Brussels.

“It seems that you are listening to a group of people who want to stop or delay Brexit.

“I will come to speak for the 17.4 million who did not vote for a transition deal or any further delays and whose resolve is getting stronger.”

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