Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mayor Sadiq Khan urges EU not to punish UK for Brexit

SADIQ KHAN

LONDON: The EU should not try to “instil fear” by threatening to “punish” the UK for Brexit with a bad deal, the London Mayor has warned Brussels. Sadiq Khan says the EU should not try to “secure its future by fear” and said a bad deal for Britain’s capital would hurt Europe too. Mr Khan’s intervention, in a speech in Brussels, comes the day before Theresa May is to trigger Article 50 – the official two-year divorce process. He said: “Now is the time to be confident in the European Union, and to act with confidence. There is no need – as some have suggested – for the EU to send a message, or to instil fear, by punishing the UK. “Because a proud, optimistic and confident institution does not secure its future by fear.” He added that a “bad Brexit deal that hurts London would hurt the European Union too”. The mayor’s address set the scene for a series of high-level meetings with key EU figures to send the message that London wants EU trade and investment after Brexit. He will be holding talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, and the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt.

When asked if he wanted Britain to face an EU punishment deal, Mr Verhofstadt said: “Not at all.” However, the spectre of a $60bn EU(£52bn) Brexit bill indicates a potentially hostile start to negotiations. EU negotiatior Michel Barnier wants to get the issue settled quickly so both sides can reach the outlines of a Brexit agreement within 18 months. Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK would not be paying the EU that amount of money. He said: “We will, of course, meet our international obligations be we expect also our rights to be respected too. “I don’t think we are going to be seeing that sort of money change hands.” Mr Khan also called on Mrs May to work to make an early deal on EU citizens living in the UK. Speaking on Question Time on Monday, Mr Davis said that immigration levels might need to rise “from time to time” suggesting the Government could be looking to quotas in the wake of Brexit. He said: “The first issue here is to bring this back under the control of the UK Government, the UK Parliament, to bring migration under control. “I don’t think most people oppose migration, I think most people are in favour of migration so long as it’s managed. The point is, it will need to be managed.”

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