German minister sees hope of 'soft' Brexit

Brexit Secretary David Davis will call for a "deal like no other in history" as he heads to Brussels to launch negotiations for Britain's exit from the European Union.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain past year voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result. "A deal like no other in history", Davis said in a statement as he headed into the talks.

"I look forward to beginning work on that new future today".

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".

Talks will begin at 0900 GMT with a joint press conference by former French foreign minister and European commissioner Barnier and Davis at around 1630 GMT.

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.

What concerned companies most was May's threat to walk away from the talks if they did not go her way - a pledge made to reassure eurosceptics in her party that she would not crumble.

Monday's talks however are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said.

"If the Government does not provide a user-friendly, flexible and affordable immigration system for European Union nationals post Brexit. significant numbers of employers will be forced to relocate or focus future growth outside the United Kingdom", said Gerwyn Davies, CIPD labour market adviser. However, it faces the prospect of delivering a Queen's speech while still thrashing out a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the vote one year ago was partly a vote for Britain to control its borders, and has said that Britain will leave Europe's single market, as membership is incompatible with restricting immigration.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

The Sunday Times said ministers within May's cabinet had "let it be known" they would oust the prime minister if they thought she could not pass the government's legislative program in a vote expected on June 28.

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