A new round of Brexit negotiations begins; questions over severance remain

A new round of Brexit negotiations begins; questions over severance remain

Brexit Minister David Davis will fly into Brussels today for the first in-depth negotiations on Britain’s divorce from the European

Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Brexit Minister David Davis will fly into Brussels today for the first in-depth negotiations on Britain’s divorce from the European Union.

Davis and his European counterpart, Michel Barnier, will spend the next four days identifying issues on which the two sides don’t see eye-to-eye. In particular, the delegations are expected to focus on how to manage new border arrangements, what rights EU and UK citizens will hold post-Brexit and, most controversially, how much London owes the Union.

Some estimates put this bill at an astronomical $112 billion, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has mentioned $69 billion as the magic number. Unsurprisingly, the Brits have expressed opposition to these figures; Foreign Minister Boris Johnson labelled the sums “extortionate”, saying Brussels can “go whistle” for the money.

While the figure is likely to be lower than either of those cited above, Britain will have to pay its way to get the divorce it desires. Indeed, the EU has made this severance package one of the key issues to be agreed upon before free trade talks can begin.

Davis and Barnier will face the media on Thursday to present progress on the talks.