Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested the UK government could consider asking for Brexit negotiations to be extended if Parliament votes down the withdrawal deal later this year. Speaking to the Exiting the EU Committee on Wednesday, Davis conceded that it would not be impossible to prolong Article 50 negotiations, having previously said that the deal would fall if MPs vote it down.
UK and EU have agreed on a “large part” of the agreement that will lead to the “orderly withdrawal” of the UK. Negotiators Michel Barnier and David Davis said the deal on what the UK calls the implementation period was a “decisive step” in the Brexit process, although some of the issues still to be resolved include the Northern Ireland border.
The UK and the European Union have agreed the terms of a transition deal that covers Gibraltar but also maintains Spain’s controversial veto, according to a report from the Gibraltar Chronicle. Gibraltar is included within the territorial scope of a draft withdrawal agreement that also sets out arrangements to smooth the UK’s departure from the bloc after March 2019.
The European Union has set out its demands for the temporary transition period after the UK leaves in March 2019, and EU wants the UK to continue to follow its rules but not be involved in making decisions.
The marathon bill paving the way for Britain to leave the European Union passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons on Wednesday night. With support of 324 MPs, and the opposition of 295 MPs, a government majority of just 29, the bill for Exiting the EU aims to convert all European law into British law.
The German government on Wednesday sought to pour cold water over Britain's hopes of a bespoke post-Brexit arrangement for financial services. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman told reporters that Berlin's focus would remain on preserving a unified stance among the 27 EU nations as Brexit negotiations prepare to enter a critical phase. Britain's financial services industry is expected to be one the main battlegrounds in the next stage of talks.
Britain and the EU face a “furious race against time” to agree a transition deal and future trade relations within the next 10 months, European Council president Donald Tusk has said. In a letter to the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states ahead of a crucial summit on December 14-15, Mr Tusk urged them to show continued “unity” as Brexit negotiations enter their second phase.
Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell has called for basic answers about the deal struck with European leaders ahead of talks with UK ministers. Mr Russell is in London for a summit with members of the UK government and the other devolved administrations.
There were calls for David Davis to resign as Brexit Secretary and face investigation for contempt of Parliament, after he admitted that the UK Government has produced no impact assessments on the effect of Brexit on different sectors of the UK economy.
Manfred Weber, a leading lawmaker in the European Parliament and head of the European People Party, said on Wednesday he was more confident about Britain and the European Union ironing out difficulties in the Brexit talks.