Davis surrenders to Brussels on settling the Brexit bill first

Brexit negotiations are finally about to start – so what happens now

Under EU rules, Britain's departure date from the union is set for spring 2019 unless extended by mutual agreement.

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".

In the past few days, the softly spoken Hammond, whose future as Chancellor seemed to hang in the balance before May lost her Conservative party's majority in this month's vote, has made clear the silence he kept during the campaign had ended.

"If we're going to radically change the way we work together, we need to get there via a slope, not via a cliff edge", he said. We can only hope there is; after all, the 27 nations of the European Union have used the last three months to get their ducks in line on their terms for Britain's departure from the bloc, while the tides have been changing here following the hung parliament.

With clouds still hanging over Prime Minister Theresa May's government, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier has won an early concession from his counterpart, Brexit Secretary David Davis, by ensuring that the talks start with discussions on the UK's divorce settlement with the bloc.

Last year's Brexit vote came as a profound shock to Brussels against a backdrop of rising anti-EU sentiment, with many - including now US President Donald Trump - predicting the bloc's eventual break-up.

Five major United Kingdom business bodies have come together to call for continued access to the European single market until a final Brexit deal is made with the EU.

Boris Johnson has said the Brexit talks beginning today will lead to a "happy resolution" for both Britain and the European Union.

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

Monday's negotiations are to open at 11:00am in Brussels (0900 GMT) with 90 minutes of talks between Barnier and Davis, followed by a working lunch between the pair and a press conference.

She added: "I hope that we will reach a good agreement". She's got no mandate here and she's got no authority overseas and the negotiation starts tomorrow. "And we want to try to solve the hard things as well as possible". A fair deal for both sides was possible, he said.

The research, which was commissioned by the Global Future think tank, found 60 per cent of Tories, however, put migration curbs first compared to 27 per cent for trade. A former principal private secretary to Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the career civil servant was later deputy national security adviser before being appointed permanent secretary of Mr Davis's Department for Exiting the European Union in July 2016.

"I hope that today we can identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the [EU summit] later this week that we had a constructive opening of the negotiations", the Frenchman said as he greeted Britain's Brexit minister David Davis.

The minister added: We want both sides to emerge strong and prosperous, capable of projecting our shared European values, leading in the world, and demonstrating our resolve to protect the security of our citizens.

Putting a "free trade deal" in place and a building a "deep and special partnership with our friends" in Europe was at the heart of the government's negotiations, he said, as he called for people in Britain to "look to the future".

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