Negotiations regarding Britain's exit from the European Union resumed on Monday in Brussels, and Britain's prime minister warned her feuding cabinet to stop its infighting. David Davis, the Britain's Brexit secretary, began four days of talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, but flew home to London after only three hours of negotiation.
Matters regarding Britain's departure from the economic bloc will be handled by subordinates until Davis returns on Thursday.
Prior to his departure, Davis said it was important to now get into the substance of the matter, and acknowledgement that little was accomplished during the opening of negotiations in June. Davis anticipated four categories were involved, the issue of citizens’ rights, the issue of finance, the issue of separation issues and, of course, separately, Northern Ireland.”
Davis is attempting to accelerate a dialogue between himself and Barnier, but open divisions in British Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet make it difficult to determine the British course of action, according to London media. The EU has publicized its preferred agenda, which includes the settlement of issues such as citizens' rights and financial obligations, before discussions turn to trade agreements.
Davis and Barnier spent only a half-hour in negotiations Monday, and photographs from the talks featured bulging files of papers on Barnier's side of the table and little evidence on Davis'.
British Chancellor Philip Hammond accused at least one fellow cabinet minister of leaking details of a cabinet meeting last week. He said the leak undermined his plan to make the future of the British economy the central focus of the Brexit talks, ahead of Britain-EU immigration policies. Hammond also said, according to leaks, that public sector workers in Britain were overpaid.
One unnamed Cabinet minister was reported to claim Mr. Hammond was part of an attempt by “the Establishment” to prevent Britain ever leaving the EU. The Daily Telegraph quoted the minister as saying: “What’s really going on is that the Establishment, the Treasury, is trying to f*** it up. They want to frustrate Brexit.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling attempted to play down suggestions of Cabinet splits over Brexit and criticized those who have been briefing about its meetings.
“I don’t see these great divisions that are suggested to me in the Sunday newspapers and I have to say I think all of this is somewhat overplayed,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
PM May is expected to advise her cabinet to try to reduce tensions within her government.
Former cabinet minister David Mellor, who served under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, commented on the perceived lack of strong leadership within May's government, telling the London Evening Standard, If any minister had spoken out of turn, Margaret Thatcher would have been down on them like a ton of bricks. Regarding leadership, he added, You get exactly the anarchy that you have got.”