Johnson urges EU to get on with ‘serious’ negotiations on trade
16 October 2017
Boris Johnson urged the European Union to "get on" with beginning "serious" Brexit negotiations on trade, as Theresa May prepared for a fresh push to break the deadlock in a crunch meeting with Brussels chiefs.
The Foreign Secretary stressed Britain's "very fair" offer on EU citizens' post-Brexit rights but did not mention any other withdrawal issues, such as money, which Brussels wants more progress on before moving on to trade talks.
He spoke as the Prime Minister prepared for a showdown with chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, just days after they said exit negotiations were deadlocked.
Downing Street sources insisted the meeting had "been in the diary for weeks" but the announcement caused surprise in Westminster and comes after last week's negotiations ended with little movement.
Mrs May, who will be joined by Brexit Secretary David Davis, is expected to have discussions with European counterparts over the coming days ahead of a meeting of all EU leaders later in the week.
Over dinner, the PM will hope to end the stalemate over the divorce settlement that is stopping a post-Brexit trading relationship being discussed.
After the fifth round of discussions were brought to a close last week, Mr Barnier said he would not recommend that talks move on to the next stage when he attends the European Council on Thursday.
But arriving for a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg, Mr Johnson said: “We think in the UK that it’s time to get on with these negotiations.
“It’s ready for the great ship to go down the slipway and on to the open sea and for us to start some serious conversations about the future and the new relationship, the deep and special partnership that we hope to construct, and I think will work very much in the interests of both sides.
“And people say to me, look, we want to reassure the 3.2 million EU nationals in the UK and the one and a bit million UK nationals in the EU, and so do we.
“We’ve made a very good offer, we’ve made a very fair (offer), and we think it’s a reasonable point of view that we’re outlining.
“Let’s give them that reassurance, let’s put a tiger in the tank, let’s get these conversations going and stop letting the grass grow under our feet.
“We hope very much that our friends and partners will take that message and really begin some serious negotiations.”
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire