Britain, EU agree terms for post-Brexit ties

Police officers stand by police tape as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrive to begin work at the scene of the nerve agent attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury

Police officers stand by police tape as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrive to begin work at the scene of the nerve agent attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury

These would take place "in parallel" with talks on the future trading relationship, he told a summit press conference.

That highlight was in fact overshadowed by the assassination attempt in the United Kingdom on a Russian former spy and his daughter, and a looming trade war with the US.

May secured a diplomatic victory on Thursday after securing unanimous European Union backing for Britain's assessment that Russian Federation was "highly likely" responsible for a nerve agent attack on an ex-spy in the English city of Salisbury.

It was a rare signal that despite Brexit a growingly hostile global environment would require stronger EU - UK included - cooperation.

During the unusually busy summit, EU leaders on Friday (23 March) signed off the guidelines for the post-Brexit, future EU-UK talks in a few seconds.

For Theresa May, the hardest stage of Brexit talks may be just beginning.

The guidelines say the European Union is committed to working towards a "balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging" future free trade agreement, but insists it can not offer the "same benefits" as single market membership.

The seven-page document offers the United Kingdom a "balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging free trade agreement", balancing out rights and obligations for the United Kingdom to "ensure a level playing field".

He cautioned that the future partnership negotiated over the coming months "must respect the principles and identity of the European Union and the single market".

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The EU's Brexit negotiators seem to be dragging out the process.

But the text carried a warning that 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed - a threat to May to avoid 'backsliding on a deal to let Northern Ireland remain regulated by Brussels if no better way is found to prevent a 'hard border that could risk the peace.

He noted new talks on the border start next week.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar, who met May on the sidelines of the summit on Thursday, said he envisaged a trading relationship that was "so close that many of measures in the backstop may become unnecessary".

"Leaders will assess in June if the Irish question has been resolved and how to go about a common declaration on our future", he told reporters.

He added that leaders will also decide then how detailed the early agreement on the future relationship will be. Many UK supply chain managers are seeking other suppliers outside of the UK and the EU.

Having weathered criticism for agreeing to hand over 35-39 billion pounds, accepting 21 months of nearly no change, and a backstop agreement that could see the British province of Northern Ireland staying in the EU's customs union, May must now try to strike a deal that wins over Brexit supporters.

She said on Friday: "We will now be sitting down and determining those workable solutions for Northern Ireland but also for our future security partnership and economic partnership".

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