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Michel Barnier says 'not a moment to lose' in Brexit talks

Michel Barnier says 'not a moment to lose' in Brexit talks
From BBC - February 5, 2018

There is "not a moment to lose" if the UK and EU are to reach a Brexit deal, the EU's chief negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier, speaking ahead of talks with Theresa May and David Davis in London, said he respected the UK's "red lines", but EU rules must be respected.

Downing Street earlier insisted Britain will not be in a customs union with the EU, amid claims of Tory disunity.

Mrs May faces calls to spell out more detail of what she wants in talks ahead of the UK's departure in March 2019.

The prime minister and Brexit Secretary David Davis are meeting Mr Barnier ahead of the next round of negotiations getting under way.

Talks between officials this week will focus for the first time on the "transitional" period - of about 18 months to two years - which both sides want after Brexit on 29 March 2019.

Potential sticking points include citizens' rights, with the UK insisting EU nationals arriving during this time should not have the same future rights as those who arrive before Brexit day.

As he set off for London, Mr Barnier said time was of the essence.

"There is so much work, so we have decided for this reason to accelerate all the contacts," he said.

"We want to reach a deal, respecting the guidelines of the European Council, respecting the rules of the single market of the Union. So once again we have not a minute to lose."

Asked about the UK's apparent decision to discount any future customs union, he suggested this was not news to him.

"We have to respect the red lines of the British government but they have to respect the rules of the union."

The UK's future relationship with the EU's single market and customs union has been a topic of debate among leading Brexiteers and some of those closest to the prime minister.

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