9:57 AM, Dec 6, 2016 — The UK’s divorce agreement from the European Union should be negotiated in 18 months to leave time for the approval process, raising the prospect of Britain being out of the trading bloc by October 2018, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday, according to reports.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Barnier repeated his view that any deal the UK gets must be inferior to the terms it currently enjoys as member of the world’s largest trading bloc, the Guardian said.
Britons voted in June 52% to 48% to withdraw from the now 28-nation EU. British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would like to implement Article 50 of EU Treaties, which would kick off formal negotiations about the terms of departure, before the end of March next year.
Barnier said a “short transitional agreement” to bridge the period between the UK’s exit and the start of its future relationship with the union was a possibility, the Guardian said.
“It’s clear that the actual negotiation period will be shorter than two years,” he said. “All in all, there will be less than 18 months. If, as Theresa May has said, we receive notification by the end of March, it is safe to say the negotiations could start a few weeks later and article 50 agreement would have to be reached by October 2018.”
Barnier said the EU’s starting position for the talks would be based on the union’s four key principles, which are the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital over borders.
The Supreme Court of the UK is hearing an appeal on Tuesday for a second day from the government to overturn a High Court ruling saying the prime minister could not use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50, the formal start of Brexit, without a vote in Parliament. A vote in the legislature may cause further delays to beginning the process.
A photograph of scribbled notes on a memo block carried by a Conservative party aid when leaving a meeting at Downing Street last week said the government’s negotiating positions was “Have cake and eat it.”