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THE green light to start negotiations on a Brexit deal should have been given “months ago,” Jeremy Corbyn said in response to EU leaders’ agreement to move to the second stage yesterday.
At the European Council summit in Brussels yesterday, 27 leaders of the remaining EU states agreed to begin the second phase of talks which addresses Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.
But negotiations will not properly start until the next summit in March 2018.
Speaking in her Maidenhead constituency, Ms May said: “I am pleased that it has been agreed that we should make rapid progress on an implementation period, which will give certainty to businesses and to individuals.”
Labour leader Mr Corbyn said that while he welcomes the agreement from the European Council, the government’s “chaotic” handling of the Brexit talks has already “fuelled uncertainty and risked economic damage.”
Opening the second phase of negotiations was delayed by the government’s months-long refusal to offer EU citizens the right to remain in Britain, which Labour proposed to do from day one, arguments over money and threats from Brussels to impose a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU needs “more clarity” on Ms May’s “vision” for Brexit after all parties signed off a 15-page first-round agreement on citizens’ rights, the £39 billion divorce bill and Northern Ireland.
The PM is also suspected to be drawing up a compromise to avoid another Commons defeat over Brexit after 11 Tory rebels this week helped secure a “meaningful vote” for MPs on the final deal.
A Downing Street spokesman said that there are “no plans to withdraw” the government’s amendment to cement the March 29 2019 Brexit date in law, after Tory rebels threatened a second challenge.
But he repeatedly refused to deny that the government could change the wording of the amendment to fend off another humiliation.
Guidelines agreed at the summit revealed that the EU expects Britain to remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and permit freedom of movement during a transition period expected to last two years after the official date of Brexit.
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