PM rejects calls for UK to settle EU 'divorce bill' before trade talks begin

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Theresa May has brushed off calls for the UK to settle its Brexit bill before embarking on trade talks.

The Prime Minister said EU leaders knew that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" and claimed she was "confident" of securing a good Brexit deal.

Her comments came as the other 27 EU leaders agreed their final negotiating guidelines, including an insistence on a ''phased'' approach which would put the rights of EU citizens and the disputed "divorce bill" as part of the first tranche of issues to be dealt with before trade talks begin.

Mrs May told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "What they (EU leaders) are very clear about is, yes, they do want to start discussions about money.

"I'm very clear that at the end of the negotiations we need to be clear not just about the Brexit arrangement, the exit, how we withdraw, but also what our future relationship is going to be."

Pressed on whether she would commit to paying a divorce bill before Britain leaves the bloc, she said: "The EU has also said that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

European Council president Donald Tusk has previously said that reciprocal guarantees, which also provided certainty for British ex-pats living on the continent, were foremost among issues to be addressed.

Mrs May said: "There are things we absolutely agree on should be early in those discussions, the position of EU citizens living here in the UK and the position of UK citizens living in those 27 European countries, absolutely we agree should be in the discussions."

Mrs May also reiterated her insistence that leaving the EU with no deal would be better than taking a "bad deal".

Asked if she still believed it, the PM told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "Yes I do.

"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe that.

"But what I also believe is that with the right strong hand in negotiations we can get a good deal for the UK from these negotiations."