Britain still questions Brexit payment idea

Brexit talks begin today despite recent turmoil

Brexit negotiations have officially started today, almost a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Mrs May stressed the importance of Brexit negotiations as she was quizzed about ongoing pressure over her leadership following a disastrous election and criticism of her response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The election results have therefore left Britain in a weaker negotiating position in Brussels, as some European Union leaders fear May's government will be unable to negotiate viable terms on which to leave the European Union at all, meaning the talks could end without any deal.

What UK Brexit Secretary David Davis describes as the "most complicated negotiation of all time" begins at 11 a.m.in Brussels with Prime Minister Theresa May's government already on the backfoot.

Mr Barnier spoke at a press conference after the first day to confirm that settling priority issues would build trust on which to negotiate a new relationship.

They said discussions would be split into three stages: citizen rights, the single financial settlement and other separation issues.

The two sides are expected to meet monthly until March 2019, when Brexit is due to happen.

At one of the most important junctures for Europe and the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Mrs May's government is reeling from a crisis of her own making - the loss of her parliamentary majority in a June 8 snap election she did not need to call.

Those issues are the exit bill; the rights of three million European Union nationals living in Britain and the one million Britons on the continent who now are allowed to live, work and claim welfare benefits; and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

After the initial shock of last year's Brexit vote and faced with rising anti-EU sentiment, the bloc at 27 appears to have steadied in recent months and got a real boost with the election of new French President Emmanuel Macron in May.

British foreign minister Boris Johnson, like Davis a prominent backer of the leave campaign, also sounded an upbeat note.

He said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time".

Davis said he was looking forward to starting work on crafting the new future relationship between Britain and the EU.

The EU's Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, spent the weekend mountain hiking near his home in the French Alps. Having said last Friday said that Brexit needed to be handled in a "pragmatic" way, yesterday he said Britain would still be leaving the EU's Customs union, but added that "transitional structures" would be needed to smooth that departure. "A much more constructive and responsible tone is needed", he wrote, adding that "no deal has never been a viable option". He did, however, concede that no deal would be "very, very bad for Britain".

"Where possible, both parties will seek to agree public statements relating to negotiating rounds", the document stated.

Hammond also said that leaving the United Kingdom without a deal would be "a very, very bad outcome" despite May previously saying that no deal is better than a bad deal.

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