Monday 19 March 2018

Britain 'needs to be educated' on Brexit consequences

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: PA

Gavin Finch

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the British people need to be "educated" about the price they will be pay for quitting the union.

"There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn't been explained to the British people," Mr Barnier said at a forum in Italy. "We intend to teach people" what leaving the single market means.

Mr Barnier's comments followed the third round of increasingly acrimonious Brexit negotiations in Brussels last week. Barnier said in Italy he would never resort to blackmail, but insisted the UK must accept some basic principles, such as honouring the commitment to pay 14 percent of the EU's budget until 2020.

UK Brexit Secretary David Davis dismissed as "nonsense" a report that Prime Minister Theresa May is set to approve paying as much as €55bn.

Meanwhile, Mrs May faces a parliamentary battle in the first Commons vote on Brexit legislation if her government does not address issues raised by the Labour Party.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said his party would vote to stop handing ministers a "blank cheque to pass powers" if its concerns were not addressed.

Mr Starmer said the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - set to be debated on Thursday after MPs return to Westminster following a summer break - gave ministers "very wide powers".

Asked whether his party would vote against the Bill if David Davis does not sit down and accept his points, he said: "We have said that, I flagged these points up at the beginning of summer and said if you don't address them we will be voting against it."

Irish Independent

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