THE European Union’s Brexit bargaining position has been significantly weakened because of an article in the Lisbon Treaty stating neighbouring countries must be treated with “neighbourliness” and be allowed to prosper.

Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty states: “The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.”

The very notion of a hard, punishing Brexit has seemingly been rendered obsolete by one of Brussels’ own documents, according to the Director of the Bruges Group, Robert Oulds

Mr Oulds told Express.co.uk: “They can’t give us some kind of terrible deal because they’re bound by their own rules to negotiate free and fair trade access.

“They’re also dependent on finance from London.”

Brussels officials have told Theresa May that Britain must pay what it owes Brussels before negotiations can begin – while a figure of around £52billion has been suggested.

But Mr Ouldes is adamant that it is in fact the EU that owes Britain money.

He said: “The EU isn’t taking into account how much it owes us.

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