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David Davis' comments create further tension in Brussels

David Davis has been criticised over his recent comments regarding Brexit negotiations. Davis labelled the UK’s concessions to help quicken the progress of negotiations over a Brexit deal ‘a statement of intent’, damaging the already strained relations between the UK and EU.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s coordinator and former prime minister of Belgium, slammed Davis’ comments as ‘unacceptable’ in a fiery Twitter post. The nature of Davis’ negotiating tactics has harmed the UK going forward, claims Verhofstadt. In response to Davis, Verhofstadt has also claimed that the EU will now take a tougher stance towards negotiations in light of this revelation, with member states set to meet to discuss redrafting the wording of the second phase of negotiations.

Davis responded to reports that the British government’s assurances of uncompromising Brexiters that Northern Ireland would continue to work in accordance with EU law in the future were meaningless. The Brexit secretary stated that the agreement made with the European commission was was “more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing”.

The controversial, but accurate comments caused some concern in Dublin. In response to Davis’ comments, the European commission were quick to remind Theresa May that she had made a concrete agreement. The draft of the agreement already included a clause that clearly stating that the UK could not backtrack on any agreements made in phase one.

the agreement stated that “Negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible.”

For the next phase, the member states are likely to insist that the UK begins drafting the main points of the withdrawal agreement in the new year so that its completion will coincide for the EU leaders’ summit in March. The leaders’ summit will discuss the future of the relationship between the EU and the UK, with the nature of the talks expected to take a turn for the worse in the aftermath of Davis’ comments. How the UK approach the drafting of the withdrawal agreement will affect how Brexit progresses. Only with the EU’s trust can the transition phase get underway.

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