New Brexit talks begin as Tory MP issues joke nation warning

David Davis was in Brussels on Monday for talks to thrash out details of the transition arrangements that will come into force when Britain leaves the European Union.

The UK hopes political agreement can be reached on a transition text when EU leaders meet for a two-day summit on Thursday, clearing the way for formal talks on the post-Brexit trade relationship to begin.

Speaking as he greeted the Brexit Secretary in Brussels, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier made an "OK" hand gesture and told reporters: "We are determined."

The pair were meeting amid warnings from senior Tories that the UK must be allowed to formally sign trade deals during any transition period after leaving in March 2019.

Britain will become a "joke nation" if the EU stops it agreeing new trading terms outside the bloc as it withdraws, warned the chairman of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tories, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Brexit Secretary has said he can "live with" an implementation period of under two years if it helps to secure an early deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May will head to Brussels on Thursday for a meeting of the European Council where she is hoping a deal on the arrangements will be signed off.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Jacob Rees-Mogg warned of potential humiliation for the UK (Jonathan Brady/PA)

In an article for the Daily Telegraph Mr Rees-Mogg wrote: "Britain has to decide if it is a serious country or a joke nation.

"It would be humiliating for others to have cause to think thus of us.

"The United Kingdom will not accept being a subservient state.

"In the case of tariffs, once we have left the EU, it is non-negotiable that our trade minister should be able to respond to any threat of increased tariffs from other nations as suits our national interest, not the EU's.

"We must be able to negotiate and sign trade deals.

"Yet this does not depend just on our legal ability to do so.

"It depends on how other countries view us."

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