14:43 GMT +324 March 2019
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    British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, walks ahead of European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier prior to a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018

    EU, UK Will Remain Allies, Partners and Friends After Brexit - Michel Barnier

    © AP Photo / Olivier Matthys
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    The protracted Brexit talks have seen London and Brussels disagree on a handful of points, but now that the deal is in the offing, Michel Barnier believes that the EU's two sides will remain friends after their divorce.

    The European Union and Britain will remain "partners and friends" after the latter's departure from the bloc, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Sunday.

    "Now it is time for everybody to take their responsibility," Barnier said as he arrived at a special EU summit in Brussels that will rubber-stamp the divorce deal.

    The leaders of the European nations have gathered in Brussels for a summit to endorse the withdrawal agreement and the declaration on future EU-UK relations. Brexit talks have long stumbled upon the issues of Irish border and future trade relations, but the sides have eventually come to a compromise.

    READ MORE: EU Leaders Hold Brexit Summit in Brussels

    However, a new obstacle has emerged in recent weeks: Madrid has threatened to veto the withdrawal deal unless it is amended to incorporate provisions for direct UK-Spanish negotiations on the issue of Gibraltar, an enclave with close ties with Spain that is ruled by the United Kingdom. On Saturday, much to the relief of Brexiteers and Theresa May in particular, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced, after reaching an agreement with May, that Spain would okay the deal and the summit would go ahead.

    After securing the approval of European leaders, May will have to get her bill through Parliament. This is seen as a tough call for the PM, as her former minister said two weeks ago that Parliament would vote the deal down so that voters could be given the chance to vote in another Brexit referendum.


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