David Davis announces Great Repeal Bill from European Union after Article 50

The British prime minister wrote in articles published in several European newspapers on Thursday that she believed that the divorce talks should take place while simultaneously negotiating Britain's inclusion in fresh trade deals with the bloc during the post-Brexit era.

European Council President Donald Tusk shows British PM Theresa May's Brexit letter in notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in Brussels March 29, 2017.

"We will need to make sure that the United Kingdom honours all financial commitments and liabilities it has taken as a member state".

There is no way around it", Tusk said, "The EU27 [the remaining member states] does not and will not pursue a punitive approach. The document rules out sectoral deals for access to the single market, such as British ministers have suggested for the vehicle industry, and goes on to say that Britain will have to drop its threat to become an offshore, deregulated tax haven after Brexit. According to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty-which launched the official divorce papers between the United Kingdom and the EU-Britain must legally separate within the next two years.

He added: "The talks which are about to start will be hard, complex and even confrontational".

In her letter to European Council president, Donald Tusk, the prime minister wrote: "The UK wants to agree with the EU a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation".

Mr Muscat added: "It's obvious that the British government is in contact with all member states". Besides citizen's rights, the draft resolution warns Britain it can not start bilateral agreements with other countries or member states.

European leaders today said trade talks with Britain will only begin this autumn after "sufficient progress" on a "divorce" settlement with Brussels.

But it would be part of a phased approach, dependent on London showing "sufficient progress" in a first round of talks focused on issues including the payment of tens of billions of euros and giving residency rights to some three million European Union citizens in Britain.

The negotiations will be among the most complex worldwide talks ever undertaken. "Only then, later, can we talk about our future relationship", Merkel said.

"It's not a threat", Brexit minister David Davis told BBC radio after warnings from Brussels against using security as a bargaining chip in the talks.

The UK government has said it will not seek to maintain Britain's membership of the European Union single-market, while seeking a bespoke customs agreement which would allow Whitehall to broker its own free trade agreements.

Downing Street denied that it was attempting to use Britain's intelligence-gathering capabilities - regarded as the strongest in the European Union - as a lever in the negotiations.

  • Jon Douglas