Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday

Marsha Scott
June 18, 2017

Foster later said it was "right and proper" for the DUP to support May's legislative programme, which is due to be announced next week and will be the first formal test of her ability to govern.

"We would restore faith in politics if we could show that this parliament can at least function in presenting a view in the national interest which would command a majority on a cross party basis", said pro-European Conservative lawmaker Ken Clarke. "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".

The prime minister met leaders of Northern Ireland' other political parties yesterday, some of whom had voiced concerns that a tie-up could destabilise local politics and undermine the British government's neutrality in overseeing separate talks to form a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

But a deadly fire at a tower block in London could delay the announcement of any deal, BBC political reporter Norman Smith said.

May gambled that a strong election win, as forecast by some pollsters, would boost her majority in the House of Commons in time for the Brexit talks, but instead, her party surrendered 13 seats in the lower chamber.

"What we need is good government of the country and also we want to get Northern Ireland sorted out as well".

In Luxembourg, Britain's finance minister said that protecting jobs and the economy should be the main focus in upcoming discussions.

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The DUP is one of the most socially conservative parties in Europe, having sought to maintain some of its strictest limits on abortion and consistently opposed gay marriage. The talks must be completed and endorsed by parliaments by the end of March 2019.

The chancellor of the exchequer was asked whether he favoured a softer version of Brexit - such as British membership of the EU single market or of a customs union.

European Union rules permit the two-year deadline to be extended if there is unanimous agreement but, she said, it comes down to what the United Kingdom wants and whether it makes sense to negotiate for a further six months or a year to agree an easy transition to a new arrangement.

Britain's Brexit ministry said on Friday that no deal could be struck on exiting unless the future relationship with the bloc was taken into account.

"We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account". "The withdrawal and future are intimately linked".

The UK's Brexit secretary David Davis and European Union negotiator Michel Barnier will begin negotiations on Monday after prime minister Theresa May invoked article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which starts the clock on the UK's departure from the European Union ahead of a departure deadline of March 2019.

Britain's finance minister said Friday that jobs and growth should be the priority when Brexit negotiations begin next week, indicating that the weakened government in London might be softening its tone with Brussels.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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