European Union takes tough stance on May's Brexit demands

Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street

The European Union's remaining 27 member states are set to embed in their Brexit negotiating guidelines that trade talks with the United Kingdom can only begin once there is clarity on the terms of an orderly withdrawal, according to a draft circulated among Europe's capitals.

May repeated that phrase four times in her six-page letter formally triggering Article 50 Wednesday, underscoring the importance that she places on implementing what she called a new "deep and special partnership" before the United Kingdom breaks free from the bloc.

May also wrote a historic letter on Wednesday to the European Council president Donald Tusk, activating the process of the Brexit's divorce from the EU but had also said that it is "necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU".

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

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, in Brussels as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ministers met USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson, said London was committed to European security and that it was "not some bargaining chip" in the Brexit talks.

Some 3.3 million European Union citizens now live in Britain and about 1 million Briton live in the rest of the EU.

"The next steps along this journey are the most crucial, and if the prime minister is to unite the country, as she says she aims to do, the government needs to listen, consult and represent the whole country, not just hardline Tory ideologues on her own benches", Corbyn said.

The UK government said its Great Repeal Bill, announced to Parliament in October, would "allow for a smooth and stable transition as the UK leaves the European Union, ensuring that, wherever practical, the same rules and laws will apply after exit day". The European Parliament said Britain would violate law if it negotiates trade deals with individual companies before it leaves the EU.

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"An overall understanding on the framework for the future relationship could be identified during a second phase of the negotiations under Article 50".

A key issue to resolve for both sides will be residence rights of around a million British expatriates in the European Union and three million European Union expatriates in Britain.

He said: "A big mistake that we could make from both sides is to start with launching threats to each other".

"We must stay friends", he said.

But the guidelines, seen by BuzzFeed News, will demand for negotiations to be phased, with the first phase addressing the disentanglement of the United Kingdom from the union.

"You need to do the withdrawal agreement and you have to have an agreement on what I should call the "general terms" of your future relationship", he said.

But he added: "As of Wednesday, it's acceptable even in cautious EU language to refer to a meeting of 27 leaders as European Council".

However Tusk said today this was not on the cards.

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