LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday that no deal could be struck on exiting the European Union unless the future relationship with the bloc was taken into account.
Prime Minister Theresa May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the EU before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of Brexit.
“As we set out in the Article 50 letter, our view is that withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other,” a spokesman for Britain’s Brexit ministry said.
“We believe that the withdrawal process cannot be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account,” the spokesman said. “The withdrawal and future are intimately linked.”
While May has repeatedly said she wants a special and deep partnership with the club Britain joined in 1973, she has also laced her assurances with threats that a breakdown of talks could harm security cooperation.
Since her gamble on a snap election failed a week ago, May has come under pressure from some in her own party to change her approach to Brexit talks.
Her spokesman said Britain would not change its stance on Brexit, though May told her lawmakers she would seek a broader consensus in the party on her approach.
The Brexit ministry said it wanted to move ahead on securing the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in the European Union.
“That has always been our first aim and that is what we will do,” the spokesman said. “We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens.”
Reporting by William James, writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Kate Holton