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MNI: UK's May Acknowledges "Some Way To Go" On Brexit Talks

MNI (London)
--UK PM May Refuses To Put Number On Financial Settlement
By Kieran Williams and Tara Oakes
     BRUSSELS (MNI) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "ambitious and
positive" on the potential to reach a deal on leaving the EU, as the bloc's
Council approved internal preparations for second-phase talks.
     But the green light for member states to internally assess their approach
to future relationship negotiations is an acknowledgement that negotiations are
not there yet.
     "I am ambitious and positive for Britain's future and for these
negotiations, but I know we still have some way to go," May told journalists in
     Speaking after a session at the European Council in Brussels, May said that
a range of subjects were discussed with EU leaders, and that she had shared with
European leaders her vision "for a new deep and special partnership between the
UK and EU after Brexit" adding that her vision encompassed "free trade, rigorous
and fair competition, strong consumer rights and strong regulations."
     On a Brexit 'no deal' scenario May again insisted that all eventualities
were being prepared for, but she was confident a positive deal could be
     Questioned about financial contributions amid speculation this morning that
May had offered to pay more than she had already indicated in her Florence
speech, May didn't budge on previous comments and referred back to the Florence
speech. The UK will honour commitments made during membership said May, adding
that "there has to be detailed work on those commitments...we are going through
them line by line."
     May was questioned several times about a definitive figure, but insisted
that it will "come as part of a final agreement."
     There was a brief mention of some of the sticking points in early
negotiations such as EU citizens' rights, where she said "I am confident that we
in touching distance of a deal." On the Irish border May reiterated previous
comments that both sides had committed to a "flexible and imaginative approach
on this issue."
     While other EU leaders have acknowledged that progress is slow on the first
phase of talks, the dialogue was happening in a constructive atmosphere. Notably
a press conference by German Chancellor Angela Merkel last night,which took a
more conciliatory tone, and observers have noted that EU leaders seem to have
bought May into the fold more after she was seen to be ostracised at previous
     Observers have speculated that Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron
walking to the summit chamber with May yesterday was intended as a show of
     The summit conclusions have also opened the way for the EU27 countries to
begin trade talk preparations as was circulated in a draft communique last week
which is softening in the hard-line stance adopted previously.
     However while EU big hitters may be adopting a more appeasing tone, not
everyone is convinced. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said earlier in the
day about May "her best performance yet but hasn't changed anything."
     The other two areas requiring sufficient progress are Ireland and citizens'
rights - with May saying on the latter that they were in "touching distance of a
     May and her negotiators are now pinning their hopes on December's EUCO to
move on to parallel talks.
--MNI London Bureau; +44 203 865 3809; email:
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
--MNI Brussels Bureau; +44 203-865-3851; email:
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MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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