LONDON — U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis will make a fresh push to kickstart the stalled exit negotiations next week with a visit to Paris for talks with the Macron administration.
Despite repeated insistence from EU leaders that negotiations must only go through the EU’s point man, Michel Barnier, Davis will join French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for dinner on Monday, a U.K. official confirmed.
Davis will travel to Paris for the evening talks in a move which British officials say shows the U.K. is “getting on with the job” despite the European Council’s decision Friday not to allow talks to progress to the future trading relationship in Brussels.
Davis’s trip to the French capital is his only foreign diary commitment next week and is seen as an important statement of intent inside government. British negotiators believe France’s hard-line stance over Britain’s financial settlement is one of the key “blockages” stopping progress.
One U.K. government aide said the fact that Davis was holding talks with Le Drian shows the British approach of continuing to deal with member countries as well as the European Commission was working. “People say that talking to member states has failed as a strategy,” the aide said, “but on the contrary, it’s a vindication of that approach. We know that is where the blockages are.”
Despite a frustrating round of talks in Brussels last week, the news that the EU27 were beginning preparations for the next stage of the talks, should “sufficient progress” be granted at the next European Council in December, was hailed as progress by the U.K.
One official in the Brexit department said: “It’s good that the EU have decided to start their own preparatory work on how they see the future relationship working; that will allow us to accelerate talks once they are ready to join the conversation about it.”