17th May 2017

The European Union should not seek money from Britain during the Brexit negotiations simply to cover its own budgetary failures, UK Conservative delegation leader Ashley Fox told MEPs today.

Speaking in a debate on the European Council's Brexit negotiating guidelines he said: "In terms of payments we will of course meet our legal obligations. But the EU should not invent an enormous figure to plug holes in its budget."

He also called for an early start to talks on Britain's future trading relationship with the EU, stressing that was the best way to ensure a successful outcome.

He added: "We don't want a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It is though, difficult to discuss how that might work without knowing what sort of trading relationship we will have.

"The UK wants a deep and special partnership with the EU. We want a comprehensive agreement on both our economic and security relationships. We want you to prosper after we have left.

"We want to protect the rights of EU citizens currently in the UK. And we are confident that our partners will want the rights of British citizens in the EU to be protected as well.

"Let us work together to build a new relationship that works for all our citizens."

Mr Fox delivered most of the speech in French in response to recent comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who explained that he gave this year's State of the Union address in French because English was "losing its importance" at the EU.

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