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Afp

'New sense of optimism' in Brexit talks: PM May

By AFP
media "Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to tell MPs AFP/File

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell British lawmakers Monday there is a "new sense of optimism" around Brexit talks after striking an initial agreement last week with the European Union.

In a statement to parliament following the preliminary deal reached Friday with the EU over Britain's divorce bill, citizens' rights and the Irish border, May will say both sides compromised to defy the doubters.

"Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," she is expected to tell MPs.

"But there is, I believe, a new sense of optimism now in the talks and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week.

"In doing so we can move on to building the bold new economic and security relationships that can underpin the new deep and special partnership we all want to see."

Under the proposed agreement, Britain will pay a financial settlement of between £35 billion-£39 billion (40-45 billion euros, $47-52 billion) for leaving the bloc in March 2019.

It allows EU citizens living in Britain and its citizens living in the EU -- as well as their families -- to claim permanent residency status, alongside the right to work, study and access healthcare, pension and social security entitlements.

Meanwhile, Britain has vowed to find a way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the possibility of "full alignment" with the EU single market and customs union rules that are crucial to a 1998 peace accord.

This has led to concern it provides an unexpected backdoor to a softer Brexit, reneging on previous pledges that Britain would be leaving the single market.

But May will tell lawmakers: "This is not about a hard or a soft Brexit.

"The arrangements we have agreed to reach the second phase of the talks are entirely consistent with the principles and objectives that I set out in my speeches in Florence and at Lancaster House."

 
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