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UK not seeking divide and rule approach in Brexit talks – minister

Britain will not seek to take a divide and rule approach with the other 27 member states of the European Union in upcoming Brexit negotiations, Brexit minister David Davis said on Wednesday.

The remaining member states are due to meet at a summit on April 29 to endorse a common position, before negotiations begin in earnest after Britain’s June 8 election.

“There have been some suggestions that the UK might now seek to take a divide and rule approach to the union in the upcoming negotiations, far from it,” Davis told an audience of business people at a conference in London.

“We want the negotiations to be swift and effective … Given the subject matter is complex and time is tight, the unity of the European Union will therefore be important for both sides.”

Davis said Britain should be under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead within the two-year negotiating time frame set out under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

“We are re-shaping Britain’s place in the world. Securing an agreement with the EU within the two-year period about our withdrawal and the shape of our future relationship will be challenging. We will have difficult issues to confront, compromise will be necessary on both sides,” he said.

He also said Britain was seeking to ensure a smooth and stable transition as it leaves the EU, but would need to take an “intelligent approach” to regulation in the years ahead.

“We must avoid unnecessary burdens on business, but we also want to make sure that our approach maintains or ensures new access to markets from Croatia to California, the regulations must have that in mind,” he said.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Huw Jones, editing by David Milliken and Guy Faulconbridge)

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