Economy

European Union tells Britain to 'face up to hard facts' on Brexit

European Union tells Britain to 'face up to hard facts' on Brexit

Separately, the deputy head of the European Commission told the European Parliament that the Union had a duty to stand by Britain and urged the other 27 national leaders to make that clear when they meet May at a regular Brussels summit next week at which Britain's imminent exit from the EU is on the agenda.

"Obviously, we need further clarity if we can reach a sense of future relations", said Jean-Claude Juncker during a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the stalemate in talks with London.

As negotiators rush to strike an agreement on a post-Brexit transition period that the United Kingdom insists it needs this month, Barnier poured cold water on May's request to stick with some elements of EU membership while leaving its customs union and single market once the transition ends in 2021.

Mr Juncker today said the draft proposals should not come as a surprise or shock, suggesting it "translates faithfully" the agreement reached between British and European officials late previous year to avoid a hard border.

"If nerve gas was actively used against civilians in one of our member states, I believe that the European Council should, in clear terms, express its full solidarity with the British people and the British government in addressing this issue", said Timmermans, who as Dutch foreign minister accused Russian Federation of downing an airliner flying from Amsterdam over Ukraine in 2014.

He said: 'Mrs May, we did not vote for a transition period, we voted to leave this organisation, we voted to leave the customs union, we voted to leave the single market.

It had previously said the integrity of the single market for remaining European Union member states should be a priority.

Other sticking points will be avoiding a hard border in Ireland, as well as securing citizens' rights. If no deal is reached at an European Union summit, firms must begin planning for a worst-case "hard Brexit".

Overall, he added, "it is time to face up to the hard facts".

Another German industry group, the VDMA engineering association, also called on Tuesday for an EU-UK customs deal.

UKIP MEP and former party leader Nigel Farage finds that outrageous.

"As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties, to turn commitments into agreements".

"But you should not simply discard the idea of a customs union".


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