Officials in London and Brussels are racing against a two-year deadline to make sure Britain has an orderly exit from the European Union, but tensions are running high.
While the U.K. government is preparing to convert European Union law into domestic law to ensure there's clarity for businesses and citizens, officials in Brussels are receiving negotiation guidelines from the remaining 27 countries, with talks due to the kick off around May.
There is a sense of urgency on both sides to agree on the terms of the divorce, but the tone is tinged with rivalry.
The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper pictured the U.K.'s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow and President Donald Tusk of the European Council under the headline, "EU warns: Don't blackmail us." British Prime Minister Theresa May stated in her communication to the EU that the failure to agree on a Brexit agreement would weaken cooperation in crime and security. However, officials in Brussels said they would not accept such threats as a bargaining chip.
"I tried to be a gentleman towards a lady, so I didn't even use or think about the use of the word blackmail," Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's representative for Brexit, said at a press conference Wednesday evening.