Britain needs a transition period to soften its exit from the European Union, but it can not be used to stop Brexit, two senior ministers said on Saturday, signalling a truce between rival factions in Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, a strong Remain campaigner, and Trade Secretary Liam Fox, a leading Brexiteer, put on a display of unity with a joint pledge that echoes Theresa May's oft-repeated remark that "Brexit means Brexit".
From this week, the Government is to start publishing a new series of detailed papers setting out its negotiating position on a range of key issues, amid criticism from Brussels of a lack of clarity about what it wants from the talks.
"We've been crystal clear that issues around our withdrawal and our future partnership are inextricably linked", a source in Britain's Brexit department said.
"These papers show we are ready to broaden out the negotiations".
Bruno Maçães, who was his country's EU minister between July 2013 and November 2015, rubbished claims the effect of Britain quitting the European Union would be "negligible" for remaining members of the bloc. The two sides will be looking for a solution to those issues at the next round of talks due at the end of this month.
It added that businesses should be assured there would be no "cliff edge" despite fears expressed that the UK could crash out of the EU without reaching a deal, which would see UK-EU relations revert to World Trade Organisation rules.More news: Wenger: I'm relieved that Giroud stayed
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A British paper focused on "issues unique to Northern Ireland and Ireland" is expected ahead of the talks, but no further details of the proposal were provided on Sunday.
The UK government said it was preparing several papers, including plans for a new customs arrangement and for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Sunday Telegraph reports one proposal will involve offering Irish citizens free movement in and out of the UK.
Barnier has maintained that negotiators must make progress on the rights of European Union and British citizens, the border with Ireland and Britain's exit payment before discussing a trade deal, while Prime Minister Theresa May wants an accord before leaving.
Without suggesting how long a transition would last, they say the "time-limited interim period" would come into effect when the United Kingdom leaves the EU in March 2019 - but insisted it would not be a "back door" for staying within the union.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband has used an attack on the ministers spearheading Brexit to call for a second European Union referendum.