European Union offers pre-Brexit trade talks

"Sorry, that's not the way it's going to work", Verhofstadt said.

Guaranteeing the rights of European Union citizens is a "matter of priority" for the EU.

"Our laws will then be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and interpreted not by judges in Luxembourg but by judges across the United Kingdom", he told MPs. Frans Timmermans, the vice president of the European Commission, said in Madrid Friday: "These people shouldn't suffer because of Brexit".

Tusk also ruled out the suggestion that there was an inherent threat in May's departure letter Wednesday, which some felt hinted that Britain would end its security cooperation with continental Europe unless it gets a good Brexit deal.

The Leave Means Leave campaign said Mrs May should "walk away from the table" if Brussels refuses to talk about trade alongside the divorce settlement.

The long-awaited letter was created to notify the European Union of Britain's departure and establish mutual good will ahead of exit negotiations getting underway.

A letter from Prime Minister Theresa May was sent to EU leaders, formally asking the union to implement the start of exit talks and ending a relationship that had lasted for 44 years.

There are two separate deals to be struck. Brussels has always said these two matters must be settled one after the other, exit terms first.

In response, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom government said: "These are draft guidelines and we look forward to beginning negotiations once they have been formally agreed by the 27 member states". The official was speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues.

Johnson, speaking in Brussels upon arrival for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting Friday, said he has had good feedback from partners since Wednesday's British announcement, despite worries on both sides of the Channel about Brexit.

In the document delivered yesterday to the European Union summit chair to trigger a two-year countdown to withdrawal, Britain's prime minister called for parallel negotiations on not just divorce terms but a new trade pact and special deals in key sectors.

"The now on the other side of the other side of the table", Tusk said, adding that the EU's role is to "minimize the uncertainty" that Brexit has created for businesses and citizens.

Following the triggering of the Article 50 withdrawal process by Theresa May on Wednesday, Mr Tusk is to circulate his draft guidelines for the forthcoming negotiations to the other European Union leaders. But Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said on Friday that the two sides would only have to agree the methodology for calculating the bill, rather than the actual sum, during the first few months of talks.

Pittella said: "It would be outrageous to play with people's lives in these negotiations".

"The European Council (EU leaders) will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase" on a future relationship, the draft guidelines say.

  • Zachary Reyes