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EU negotiator urges Theresa May to work with bloc on deal

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned of serious consequences if the UK abandons the European Union (EU) without a trade deal.

“If the UK wants to build a future relationship with the EU, it needs to first rebuild trust,” Michel Barnier said addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Barnier, who had previously said that a Brexit with no deal would be much more disruptive for Britain than it would be for the EU, stressed, “I would appreciate it if the British side was in the mood to reach a deal with the EU, not against the EU.”

He also stressed the tight timetable for offering legal clarity to firms and people before a two-year negotiating window closes in March 2019 and Britain is out of the EU. He further warned that they should not rely on gentle transition periods.

“Possibly we will work on transition periods after Brexit, after Britain leaves, periods of phasing out and of phasing in toward the future relationship,” Barnier said.

“But the real transition period is now, before withdrawal,” he added. “I recommend that particularly all economic actors make good use of this period so that withdrawal, on the day it happens, probably in March 2019, is as orderly as possible.”

Earlier in May, European Council President Donald Tusk had warned of “impossible” Brexit negotiations after Prime Minister Theresa May accused Brussels of meddling in Britain’s election.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (file photo)

May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty last month to officially begin divorce talks between Britain and the EU. However, Brexit negotiations will not begin until after the UK general election on June 8.

The United Kingdom held a referendum last June in which Britons voted by a 52-48 percent margin to leave the EU, the first member state ever to do so.

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