Fix key UK Brexit items 1st, then fall talks on future

Now they think they can negotiate the terms of their disengagement from 44 years of European Integration, sort out the financial implications of ending their membership of the EU and negotiate a "deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security co-operation" with the remaining 27 states, all in under two years.

The EU guidelines say it's a priority to agree on residency rights for British and other European citizens living in each other's countries, and call for "flexible and imaginative solutions" for the issue of the UK's land border with EU member Ireland.

He added: "The talks which are about to start will be hard, complex and even confrontational".

The EU has proclaimed its unity on Brexit, even as it reels from Britain's intention to become the first member state to leave in the bloc's 60-year history.

MR Tusk said it was "only fair" to settle Britain's withdrawal before talks on a trade deal can begin.

Over the past nine months, European Union leaders and officials have resisted British calls for immediate negotiations on a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement to replace Britain's lost access to the European Union single market by ensuring low or zero tariffs and harmonising regulations to encourage trade in services. Still, the guidelines reiterate that the relationship can not have the same benefits as membership as well as stating that the future trade deal will not amount to participation of the single market or to parts of the single market.

Campaigners mounting a legal challenge to determine whether Britain's divorce from the European Union can be reversed said they had filed their written legal case on Friday. This would also allow United Kingdom some degree of access to the EU's single market. "The negotiation will get under way and let's see where we end up", a spokesman for Mrs May said.

He also said the European Union would seek "flexible and creative solutions" to avoid the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Britain's only land border with the EU.

Tusk was due to give a press conference in Malta with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, to discuss the strategy.

The EU's guidelines state that Spain must have a say over whether any post-Brexit deal applies to the British territory of Gibraltar, over which London and Madrid have rowed for 300 years.

Tusk said the European Union will not punish Britain in the negotiations, saying that Brexit itself is "punitive enough".

Mr Tusk added: "The EU27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is already punitive enough", he said.

The question of intelligence cooperation was also brought up, and EC President Tusk reassured that this should not and will not be used "as a bargaining chip" after mentioning the latest terrorist attack in Westminster Abbey, London.

The EU Council President made it clear that talks on the UK's future relationship with the EU would only start once "sufficient" progress were achieved on these guidelines. But her warning in the letter that failure to clinch a deal on trade would affect Britain's cooperation on terrorism and security still rankled many.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said the announcement proved there was a "lot of goodwill, a lot of willingness to achieve what the Prime Minister has said she wants to achieve, which is an orderly transition and then a deep and special partnership between a strong European Union and a strong UK".

  • Leroy Wright