The UK’s chancellor, Philip Hammond, has warned the European Union’s “relative silence” needs to end. There is “little, if any signal” from the EU about its priorities for Brexit talks on future co-operation due to begin in March, he told the Die Welt Economic Summit in Berlin on January 10.
“They say it takes two to tango. Both sides need to be clear about what they want.”
As reported by the BBC, the chancellor’s speech called on the EU to “put behind” it any talk of punishing the UK for voting to leave the 28-member bloc and concentrate on maximising the mutual benefits of close co-operation in areas such as defence, education, science, technology and culture.
“I know the repeated complaint from Brussels has been that the UK “hasn’t made up its mind what type of relationship it wants. But in London, many feel that we have little, if any, signal of what future relationship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Britain.”
The second phase of Brexit negotiations, covering transitional arrangements after the UK leaves in March 2019 and future economic and security co-operation, are set to begin officially in March.
However, internal discussions within the EU about the framework of future relations have already begun following December’s first-phase agreement on so-called divorce issues, like money and citizens’ rights, reported the BBC.
In a separate report, The Guardian quoted Jenny Chapman, shadow Brexit minister, as saying: “If the government wanted to be anyone’s tango partner it would be more Ed Balls than Darcy Bussell. At every stage of the Brexit process, Theresa May has allowed the European Union to go first and set the terms of debate because of splits within her own party. Now talks have moved to the second phase ministers must stop waiting for the EU to lead.”
Meanwhile, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has repeatedly complained of a lack of clarity on Britain’s hopes for the outcome of the talks.