British Trade Minister Liam Fox said on Friday that the UK would not be blackmailed into agreeing on the cost of leaving the European Union, urging Brussels to move negotiations on to discuss Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.
“We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part,” Fox told broadcaster ITV during a visit to Japan with
Prime Minister Theresa May.
The third round of Brexit negotiations, focused on settling the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, ended on Thursday with a warning from Brussels that more work needed to be done before they moved on to discuss future ties.
“This week provided useful clarifications… but we did not get any decisive progress on the central subjects,” EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Thursday.
All in all, “we are from having sufficient progress to recommend that (EU leaders) launch talks about the future relationship,” he added.
The British government has been keen to shift talks to a new relationship, seeking to allay business concerns on trade and regulation, but Brussels has demanded progress first on central issues, including how much Britain should pay when it leaves.
The so-called Brexit bill is a contentious issue both domestically, where eurosceptics are keen to see as little money paid as possible, and with the EU, which is demanding Britain meets its existing commitments to the bloc.
Britain has said it is prepared to meet its international obligations.
Fox said businesses across Europe had told him they were keen to see more detail on what Britain’s new relationship with the EU would look like.
“We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that’s good for business, and it’s good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union,” Fox said.
Meanwhile, the Brexit-hit British pound threatens to reach parity with the euro — and is already worth less than the European single currency for many travellers seeking to exchange cash at airports.
Sterling went into freefall after Britain voted in a shock referendum last year to leave the EU, sparking fears over the nation’s economic outlook.
The pound was trading at approximately 1.3072 euros as voters headed to the polls on June 23, 2016.
This week, sterling stood at about 1.0850 euros, a dramatic 17-percent slump since the referendum.
“There is certainly a possibility for euro/pound to hit parity,” said analyst Fawad Razaqzada at trading firm Forex.com.