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EU's Tusk, Britain's May want to reduce tensions in Brexit talks

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European Chief Negotiator of the Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 Michel Barnier right discusses with parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt before attending a session

The Brexit talks have already got off to a hard start after London was alarmed by a clause in the guidelines saying Spain had to be consulted on any post-Brexit trade deal that affects the British outcrop of Gibraltar.

"Are we off our heads?" asked Manfred Weber, the German leader of the center-right group, the parliament's biggest.

She has offered few details on how an implementation phase would operate, but if Britain wants to keep the status quo before finalizing a deal, it will have to accept the EU's rules - the so-called four freedoms allowing the free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

"I really welcome the fact that the Parliament and the (EU) Council have set that out as a first priority from the EU perspective as well", Mr Walker said, adding that Britain will also put citizens' rights first in the Brexit process.

Meanwhile, the EU Parliament's lead Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, called the United Kingdom a "sick" country, saying the bloc's relationship with Britain was "never easy" and, perhaps, "never meant to be".

In a sign of the tough stance, the remaining 27 members of the European Union will take on Brexit talks; the MEPs said there can be "no trade-off between security and the future economic relationship", according to a statement.

The guidelines, from the former Belgium prime minister turned EU Parliament negotiator, insist a transitional deal between the United Kingdom and EU can not exceed three years and that Brussels expects a financial payment as part of the withdrawal agreement. "Europe made Britain also punch above its weight in terms of geopolitics, as in the heydays of the British empire", he said, while claiming that Brexit was merely the result of a "catfight in the Conservative Party that got out of hand".

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But no reference to Gibraltar was contained in the adopted resolution.

It sparked fury on the Rock, where the Chief Minister accused the European Union of "bullying" and behaving like a "cuckolded husband".

When he accused MEPs of behaving like the mafia, the parliament's Italian President Antonio Tajani intervened to object. You think we are a hostage.

"That's the sensible thing, it's the pragmatic way to look at this, and I believe that's what we will do".

But Verhofstadt, a former Belgian premier, predicted that a future generation of young Britons would seek to rejoin the European fold.

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer urged Prime Minister Theresa May to "reflect" on the guidelines ahead of talks getting underway later this month.

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