Brexit Secretary David Davis targeting a 'deal like no other in history'

The pound has fallen about 14 percent against the dollar since the June 23 referendum, pushing up inflation even as the economy shows signs of slowing.

He added: "It's not as if Europe is leaving Britain; Britain wants to leave the EU".

Britain starts formal talks to leave the European Union today, seeking a deal "like no other in history" despite entering fiendishly hard negotiations with a badly weakened government.

Subjects for the negotiations, which officially start in Brussels later, include the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border.

The European Parliament's chosen negotiator, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, has also said the public vote on June 23rd 2016 could be reversed - although he warned that the door to reentry would be "A brand new door with a new Europe, a Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real power and with unity".

The signatories say the "economic benefits" of the European Union single market, which allows free movement of goods, services, capital and people, and the customs union, which enables tariff-free trading within the EU, should be maintained until a final settlement between the United Kingdom and the EU is "agreed and implemented". Freedom of labor movement is a tenet of European Union membership and May initially interpreted the referendum result as a demand to stop that. She will not take part in day-to-day negotiations but is expected to set Britain's approach and have the final say on any compromises or concessions.

Spring 2019: Mrs May has promised MPs a "take it or leave it" vote on whether to accept any deal or leave the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms.

London triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and officially launched the EU withdrawal process by handing a formal letter to European Council President Donald Tusk on March 29.

But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.

Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis described the talks as a mission to deliver on the will of the British people following the referendum of a year ago.

No deal would be "very, very bad" for Britain, Hammond said, but worse would be a deal "deliberately structured to punish us, to suck the lifeblood out of our economy".

Only when "sufficient progress" is made on these matters is Barnier willing to turn to the "bold and ambitious" trade deal that May wants, a pivot most doubt is unlikely to happen much before October.

"Perhaps there is now a chance to achieve a so-called soft Brexit".

But EU officials are sceptical that May's position has changed, just as they are doubtful about the feasibility of either option.

But Monday's talks will seek mainly to tie down the timing, with the European Union suggesting monthly cycles over the summer.

Britain already appears to have capitulated to the EU's insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal. Talks must be wrapped up by the end of 2018 to allow the European and British Parliaments to rubber-stamp them, making it questionable May can secure what she wants in the timeframe allowed.

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