Sir Simon Fraser, former Head of the Diplomatic Service, has told BBC Radio 4 that Brexit negotiations have not begun well, with the UK a “bit absent” from the formal negotiating table in Brussels. Sir Simon confirmed that divisions in the Cabinet over the terms of any Brexit deal were largely to blame for this silence, although the government is expected to publish position papers on a number of key issues shortly – “we haven’t put forward a lot because, as we know, there are differences within the cabinet about the sort of Brexit that we are heading for and until those differences are further resolved I think it’s very difficult for us to have a clear position. I think so far we haven’t put much on the table apart from something on the status of nationals, so we are a bit absent from the formal negotiations.” Sir Simon called for the Government to publish further details over the key Brexit issues, such as future customs arrangements and the Northern Irish border. Meanwhile, David Davis, Brexit Secretary, has dismissed EU claims that trade talks may be delayed because of a lack of progress on the ‘divorce settlement’ (the amount the UK should pay to honour both its current and future obligations to the EU). A government spokesperson has stated that no figure has been agreed, amid reports in the Sunday Telegraph that the Government would be prepared to pay the sum of £36 billion to settle the divorce bill.
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