The U.K. Is Stalling on New Brexit Talks

  • EU is said to have offered two or three rounds of negotiations
  • No date has been agreed for restart: U.K. Brexit Secretary

Bosomworth Says Brexit Process Is on the Slow Side

Theresa May

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

The U.K. failed to respond to the European Union’s offer of at least two fresh rounds of Brexit talks before December, according to two people familiar with the matter.

That means negotiations remain at an impasse despite promises from both sides to speed up progress after a summit of European Union leaders just a week ago. Prime Minister Theresa May has seven weeks to decide which payments the U.K. will make to pivot talks to trade.

For now, no date has been set for the next set of talks between Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

David Davis

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

“We remain in discussions with the EU task force and will jointly set out in due course a mutually agreed timetable for negotiations that give both sides the best opportunity to build on the momentum of previous rounds and make further progress,” the U.K.’s Brexit department said in an email on Friday.

The U.K. wants to move negotiations on to trade and a transition phase but needs EU leaders to agree in December that “sufficient progress” has been made on the divorce terms first.  Progress has been slow due to disagreements over the details of the exit bill.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials on both sides said the EU had offered at least two rounds of talks before the next summit, when leaders will assess whether May’s offer on the money is enough to allow trade talks to begin. The earliest the next round of talks can start is Nov. 6 because of a holiday in Belgium next week.

Michel Barnier

Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Back in London, May’s position remains weak. She’s been beset by media leaks she begged for help, not to mention potentially damaging allegations against cabinet ministers and yet more personnel changes in her Brexit team.

In the latest development, her government changed its team of Brexit ministers for the third time in four months on Friday after Joyce Anelay quit for health reasons. Her replacement as Brexit minister in the upper House of Lords is Martin Callanan, a former leader of the Conservative Party in the European Parliament and a Brussels veteran.

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