The European Union has intimated that Brexit negotiations could be at risk of failing as a result of Boris Johnson’s decision to tell EU leaders to “go to whistle” if they expected Britain to pay for withdrawing from the bloc.
Although Britain’s Brexit secretary David Davis is yet to present a formal UK position on the financial settlement that will make up part of negotiations some have estimated that it could be as high as €100 billion.
However, EU officials handling Brexit negotiations have suggested that a failure to acknowledge ongoing budget negotiations, particularly regarding UK visas and UK work permits, could be prevent any further discussion about future relationship issues.
“The three priorities for the first phase are indivisible,” said EU negotiator Michel Barnier, referring to the financial settlement, citizens’ rights and UK visas. “Progress on one or two would not be sufficient in order for us to move on to the discussion of our future relationship.”
According to Barnier, the issue of Brexit is not simply a matter of technical concerns but of building trust between Britain and the EU, particularly in light of the UK work permit and UK visa worries facing expats both in the EU and Britain.
Currently, the European Parliament is demanding that the UK match existing rights currently benefitting EU citizens living in Britain, suggesting that the alternative suggestion of introducing a new “settled status” would be “bureaucratic” and fail to nurture the trust the two countries need throughout this complex process.
“How do you build a relationship based on trade, security … which is going to last, with a country with which you don’t have trust?” implored the French diplomat. “I am saying this from the bottom of my heart, I want us to build that relationship.”