Compromises Will Be Needed in Brexit Talks, U.K.’s Davis Says

  • Brexit secretary says Britain wants EU27 to stay united
  • Expects ‘very early’ deal on EU nationals’ residency rights

Both sides in the Brexit talks will need to make compromises to reach a deal, U.K. negotiator David Davis said, in the clearest signal yet that the British government does not expect to get everything it wants. 

The U.K. and the European Union will conduct the negotiations, starting later this year, in “a spirit of sincere cooperation,” Davis said, as he insisted he wanted the 27 remaining member states to stay united in order to help the talks make progress.

David Davis, U.K. exiting the European Union (EU) secretary, walks in Downing Street ahead of the weekly question-and-answer session in the Houses of Parliament, in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure to tighten takeover rules, and do so quickly, in the wake of the failed Kraft Heinz Co. bid for Unilever Plc. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
David Davis
Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We will have difficult issues to confront. Compromise will be necessary on both sides,” Davis told the Prosperity UK conference in London on Wednesday. He said he was “confident” that a “very early” agreement could be reached on guaranteeing the residency rights of EU nationals living in Britain.

Davis: U.K. Won’t Pull Up Drawbridge on Immigration

Source: Bloomberg

The softer tone from the U.K. comes after EU officials toughened their negotiating stance in recent days, adding new limits on banks and explicit demands on citizens’ residency rights to their plan for the talks.

Prime Minister Theresa May will host the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for talks in London on Wednesday for the first time since she triggered the legal process of withdrawing from the bloc.

In his speech, Davis insisted the U.K. won’t take a “divide and rule” approach to negotiations because a united EU will help talks reach agreement more quickly. He sought to reassure businesses that Britain’s future migration rules would remain open to talent. “I don’t think anyone wants to pull up the drawbridge and a global Britain will always welcome the brightest and best,” he said.

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