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article imageBritain has guaranteed no Brexit backsliding: Verhofstadt

By AFP     Dec 13, 2017 in World

Britain's Brexit minister has personally guaranteed that London will not go back on its hard-fought EU divorce promises, the European Parliament's pointman Guy Verhofstadt said on Wednesday.

David Davis caused alarm by saying at the weekend that a deal struck in Brussels last Friday to agree separation arrangements and open talks on UK-EU future relations was a "statement of intent" rather than "legally enforceable".

His comments prompted the EU to toughen its stance and warn Britain against backtracking on the agreement, which paves the way for an EU summit this Friday to open trade talks.

Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, told MEPs sitting in Strasbourg, eastern France on Wednesday that Davis had told him Britain was still committed to the accord.

"I spoke yesterday to David Davis and he assured me that it is not his intention, or that of the British government, to go backwards, to go back on their commitments," Verhofstadt said.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, addressing MEPs shortly before Verhofstadt, repeated his warning to London not to try to backslide on the deal, which covers the Irish border, Britain's divorce bill and the rights of EU migrants.

On Sunday, Davis told the BBC that Britain would not honour its £35 billion to £39 billion (40-45 billion euros, $47-$52 billion) divorce bill as agreed under last week's deal if it fails to secure a future EU trade agreement when it leaves in March 2019.

The European Parliament is set to agree on a resolution on Wednesday which backs the Brexit deal -- but which unusually mentions Davis by name, saying his comments "risk to undermine the good faith that has been built during the negotiations".

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