Newspaper headlines: ‘Barbs fly at Brexit talks’

The end of the latest round of Brexit talks provides the lead for many papers.

The Guardian highlights the view of the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier that the UK’s approach is nostalgic, unrealistic and undermined by a lack of trust.

The Daily Express sounds a defiant note.

“You can’t bully us Mr Barnier,” is its headline, saying his comments enraged the British side.

The Times emphasises an EU demand that the UK pays billions of pounds in foreign aid to Africa as part of its financial settlement with Brussels.

Business paper City AM sums up the problem as “money trouble”, and says deadlock over the so-called divorce bill has triggered fresh alarm that trade talks could be shunted into next year.

The Financial Times and the Daily Mail have a photo of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker greeting former PM Tony Blair with a kiss.

The Mail calls it a “nauseating love-in” that “reminds us why we were so right to get out”.

The Guardian, which publishes an investigation into the gambling industry, claims online casinos are targeting people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling.

In an editorial, the paper says the record fine levied on one company on Thursday is a sign that the UK has a gambling problem and that greater regulation is needed.

“Making the necessary changes will be painful,” it acknowledges, “but the costs to public health cannot be ignored”.

The Times says for an industry that relies on expert judgement in studying form and setting odds, betting operators have an uncanny knack of shooting themselves in the foot.

It says modest cuts in stakes and prizes might be enough to satisfy critics, but the industry’s poor record on responsible gambling is shortening the odds of a drastic outcome.

The Daily Telegraph is among the papers to concentrate on the role of a sat-nav in the alleged terror attack outside Buckingham Palace a week ago.

Evidence taken from the car of Mohiussunath Chowdhury, who appeared in court on Thursday, suggests he programmed his sat-nav for Windsor Castle.

However, the in-car system is believed to have taken him to a central London pub of the same name rather than to the castle itself.

The Times and the Sun point out that the suspect was a driver for taxi firm Uber.

Posted in BBC

Brexit: UK ‘must not allow itself to be blackmailed’

The UK must not allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the EU over its Brexit settlement bill, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said.

Talks on the final settlement should begin as soon as possible “because that’s good for business”, he added.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier has said trade talks are still “quite far” away.

Both he and UK Brexit Secretary David Davis made clear on Thursday that the size of the UK’s Brexit “divorce bill” remained a sticking point in talks.

The UK wants to begin trade talks and discuss the future relationship between Britain and the EU as soon as possible, saying it would benefit both sides.

However, Brussels insists that discussions about the future relationship can only begin once “sufficient progress” has been made on the “divorce bill” – the amount the UK will pay to settle its liabilities when it leaves the EU – citizens’ rights, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.

Mr Barnier said that at the current rate of progress, he was quite far from being able to recommend opening parallel talks on a future trade relationship.

No figure has yet been put on the “divorce” payment, but European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested it could come in at about 60bn euros (£55bn).

Unconfirmed reports have put it as high as 100bn euros (£92bn).

Britain, which voted to leave the EU in June 2016, officially began Brexit talks on 19 June this year and is due to leave the EU on Friday, 29 March 2019.

Speaking in Japan on Friday, Mr Fox said everyone would benefit from Brexit if the outcome was free trade with no tariff barriers.

Asked whether it was time for the UK to name its Brexit price, he told ITV News: “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part (the divorce fee).

“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.”

Mr Fox and Prime Minister Theresa May have been holding talks with Japanese leaders about the future of trading relations between the two countries after Brexit.

‘Unlock some tension’

Speaking to the BBC at the end of the three-day visit, Mr Fox said: “It’s very clear that businesses, not just in Europe but investors in places like here in Japan, are getting impatient and want to see what that final shape of that [Brexit] arrangement is going to be.”

He said a willingness by the EU to negotiate on the future trading relationship now would “unlock some of the tension”.

He added that it was a “mistake” for the EU to think a delay in talking about the economy and the trading arrangement would not potentially damage them too.

But writing in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the European Parliament’s Brexit group, said the EU has been “fully transparent” about its negotiating positions and mandates since day one.

“This is not a ploy to derail talks, but an inevitable consequence of the Brexit decision,” he said.

Mr Verhofstadt called on UK politicians to “be more honest” about the complexities of Brexit negotiations, asking them to recognise that “other governments also have obligations to their own taxpayers”.

‘Sabre rattling’

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who works with the pro-EU Open Britain pressure group, said Mr Fox’s comments were “sabre rattling from a trade secretary who is twiddling his thumbs because he cannot do anything until the trade position of the UK has been resolved with the EU”.

“Cabinet ministers like Liam Fox and Boris Johnson have been engaging in overblown rhetoric during the referendum campaign and ever since,” he said.

“Until the government makes progress on the divorce settlement bill there will be no progress on… any kind of trade arrangement.”

The European Council is due to meet in October and will decide whether sufficient progress has been made on key Brexit discussions to allow negotiations to move on to trade and the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

‘Duty to taxpayers’

If it has not, as Mr Barnier has suggested, the next opportunity would be the council’s meeting in December – meaning talks about the future relationship would be unlikely to begin before the end of the year.

Speaking on Thursday following talks in Brussels with Brexit Secretary David Davis, Mr Barnier said the UK did not feel “legally obliged to honour its obligations” after Brexit.

He said “no decisive progress” had been made on key issues, following the third round of talks.

Mr Davis said the UK had a “duty to our taxpayers” to “rigorously” examine the EU’s demands.

And he urged the EU to be “more imaginative and flexible” in its approach.

Posted in BBC