Britain, European Union To Start Historic Brexit Talks

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits the scene of a fire disaster which destroyed a tower block in north Kensington West London Britain

Britain and the European Union (EU) have agreed on the priorities and timetable for Brexit negotiations after the first session of talks on Monday, EU pointman Michel Barnier said.

It will test the ingenuity of thousands of public servants racing against the clock to untangle 44 years of European Union membership before Britain is out, 649 days from now, on March 30, 2019.

Theresa May had called for voters in the election to choose her "strong and stable leadership" to ensure that the United Kingdom had a strong hand in the Brexit negotiations. But a government spokesman in London said, "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

Davis said both sides were "off to a promising start" even though the challenges ahead were daunting. "I look forward to beginning work on that new future today".

"Now, the hard work begins", Davis said, adding he wanted a deal that worked for both sides.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that the negotiations first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

The discussions in the meeting are expected to focus on the major divorce issues such as Britain's exit bill, which is estimated by Brussels at almost 100 billion euros or Dollars 112 billion, the rights concerning the three million EU nationals that stay in Britain, and the exit's impact on the one million Britons living across the European continent, and the status of operations in the states of Northern Ireland and Ireland. He thought that this first round of negotiations would be about getting a feel for each other. European Union officials have long insisted on covering the topics in sequence.

Merkel spoke after meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who also stressed the 27 European Union countries' unity.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted past year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so.

Threats by Britain to walk away without a deal have anxious European capitals.

The EU is also seeking British commitments to meet all past EU spending pledges when it leaves the bloc, a bill European officials say could amount to upward of EUR60 billion ($67.2 billion).

"We are. determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends".

Many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home, still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire.

The talks will address a number of issues, including how much money Britain will owe the political and economic union, the rights of British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain, and how to minimize the effects of the split on the fragile peace between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

But instead she lost her parliamentary majority, putting that hard-line approach and her political future in doubt after the disastrous June 8 election.

The Brexit Secretary read out a section from May's Article 50 letter, which only seemed to highlight his concession, before adding: "When we eventually get to the point where the Council decide we have made enough progress, both sets of dialogue will continue, including free trade, not just trade, including customs, security, obviously cooperation in all sorts of ways".

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