French President Emmanuel Macron today brushed off Theresa May’s request for early talks on a trade deal with the EU after Brexit. As the two held their first official talks on the sidelines of the G7 summit, British Prime Minister May repeated that she would like to start talks on trade at the start of the negotiations, rather than waiting until after the thorny issues of Britain’s financial settlement and expatriate rights are resolved. “The prime minister reaffirmed her wish for early clarity on the position of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “She also made clear that Britain and the 27 EU member states should be discussing our future relationship with the EU at the same time as discussing the terms of our withdrawal.”
However, a source in the French delegation said Macron had repeated the EU’s position that the terms of the divorce must be first. “The European Union will be united in the Brexit negotiations, but France and the United Kingdom will continue to maintain close ties in areas of economic, security and diplomatic cooperation between our two countries,” a source said. Britain triggered the two-year process of leaving the European Union on March 29, following a referendum vote last year to end its four-decade membership of the bloc. The start of formal negotiations must wait until after a general election that May has called for June 8.