United Kingdom 'prepared' if Brexit negotiations with European Union fail: May

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Britain would be hurt more than the European Union if it leaves the EU without a trade deal, according to a study amid suggestions that Britain should walk away from Brexit talks because of the inflexibility of the bloc's negotiators.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, addressing members of European Parliament (MEPs) at the beginning of a debate on the terms and agenda for Brexit talks, once again took a firm stance.

Senior leaders in Brussels said on Tuesday that the talks regarding Britain's exit from the European Union had failed to make "sufficient progress" to justify discussing a post-Brexit free trade relationship with London. He concluded by saying that taxpayers from the 27 member states don't have to pay for the decision of the British side.

Parliament's resolution stated that, as of the fourth round of negotiations, "sufficient progress has not yet been made on citizens' rights, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the settlement of the United Kingdom's financial obligations".

She was speaking at the close of the party conference, a day after the European Parliament overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for trade talks with Britain to be delayed because talks have not made sufficient progress.

Barnier told the parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, that May's speech had been "translated into negotiating positions" by her negotiating team led by Brexit minister David Davis.

Britain desperately wants talks to move on to future trade and security arrangements but EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that more needs to be done on the withdrawal issues first.

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However, the European Commission is still not satisfied with the progress in the Brexit talks.

But MEPs are expected to back the resolution which calls for the decision to be postponed beyond October's European Council summit. He also warned that while the prizes for the success of a good Brexit deal would be "enormous", so could be the consequences of failure.

Mr Weber added that the "top question" at the moment is: "Who shall I call in London that speaks for the British government?"

"The Irish Government must now take the lead ensuring that the political, social and economic challenges of Brexit for the whole island are addressed by securing special status within the European Union".

The EU also faces a tough challenge agreeing its next multi-year budget that runs from 2021, with generous handouts to the eastern nations under particular threat as Britain, a leading net donor, prepares to leave the bloc in 2019.

Commenting on the way the Cabinet was handling the Brexit issue, he added: "I think it's easier if we are all on a very strict script, it's very clear that the Prime Minister is in charge of this process". May said that she wants to build "a new economic partnership" with the EU, and ruled out membership of the European Economic Area.

Robert Bell is a partner and head of the EU & UK competition team at global law firm Bryan Cave.

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