11.06.2018 | Abrupt Brexit meeting between Davis and Barnier lastsone hour as little progress is made
Source - The Daily Express
The British minister had travelled to the Belgian capital for the morning meeting after last week proved to be a turbulent affair for Brexit. Mr Davis’ Cabinet position was shrouded in rumours about a potential resignation while Mr Barnier was forced to clarify his position after seemingly rejecting Theresa May’s backstop proposal.
At 8am local time, the Brexit Secretary was seen entering the Berlaymont in a ministerial car. Prior to their encounter, Mr Barnier was spotted across the road buying a selection of croissants for the event.
And around an hour later the Brexit Secretary had left his EU counterpart’s office with Mr Barnier having to make a dash across the Continent to Strasbourg for a meeting of the European Parliament.
Mr Davis made no public appearance in Brussels after the scheduled discussion between the two men heading up Brexit negotiations.
The pair discussed the Irish border and the UK and EU’s post-Brexit relationship, with Mr Davis pushing for a faster declaration to be made on both issues.
But little agreement was made with both sides still very much divided on several key issues.
Prior to the meeting, Mr Davis’ involvement in negotiations had been put in doubt after an EU official hinted he was no longer involved in day-to-day conversations. A UK source, however, rebuked the claim, insisting both men are in “close contact”.
Last week, the Brexit Secretary was rumoured to have threatened his resignation over the Prime Minister’s proposed indefinite UK-wide backstop as Westminster’s answer to the temporary arrangements to ensure a hard border doesn’t emerge on the island of Ireland.
Having met with Mrs May, Mr Davis remained in the position and an altered backstop proposal was presented to Brussels, containing an aspirational end date for the arrangement.
The document said the Government was hopeful to have new arrangements in place by December 2021 and asked for the backstop to remain in place “until” an agreement for a full-time solution is reached.
Mr Barnier addressed reporters in Brussels on Friday afternoon, responding to Westminster’s proposal said his team was still analysing the document but seemed unimpressed on the prospect of a UK-wide backstop.
The Frenchman also insisted the arrangement could not be “time limited”, as demanded by Mr Davis and other Brexiteer Cabinet ministers.
The negotiator had to clarify he wasn’t completely rejecting the UK plan and instead said Brussels’ proposed backstop, which keeps only Northern Ireland aligned to EU’s customs union, cannot become UK-wide.