'No doubt' over Britain leaving EU: Brexit minister Davis

Merkel McAllister

Theresa May should agree to pay Britain's bills to the European Union and drop threats to walk out without a legal deal if she wants talks on the "softer Brexit" some of her allies are calling for, EU negotiators say.

A week after May lost her majority in an election she had called in the hope of strengthening her hand in the talks, some fellow Conservatives want her to focus more on limiting the damage to business and less on cutting immigration and other ties to the European Union when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The UK Government wants the talks to take place in parallel during the Brexit process but both sides have made finding a solution to the issue of citizens' rights a priority.

Barnier speaks of a willingness to look at various options but EU officials also stress that greater access to EU markets will mean accepting greater costs, closer to EU membership, and question whether Britain can find a political consensus on that.

During ScotlandTonight the key Angela Merkel ally spoke of the increasing frustration Brussels is experiencing due to the uncertainty surrounding the start date for talks.

Mr Hammond's comments as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Luxembourg are likely to be seen as a further indication that he is pressing for the Government to take a "softer" line on Brexit than the immigration-driven approach previously set out by Theresa May.

Brexit negotiations are moving ahead against a backdrop of major splits in the Conservatives over just how to approach European negotiators.

Since May's Conservative Party failed to win a majority in last week's general election, there has been a lot of debate over the impact on the Brexit discussions and whether the British government will be more open to compromising on some issues, like trade.

"We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens", he said.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has long argued that the initial talks should center on brokering deals on citizens' rights, money owed by the United Kingdom and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: "The Conservatives can not go from weak and wobbly to business as usual in three days".

Her spokesman said Britain would not change its stance on Brexit, though May told her lawmakers she would seek a broader consensus in the party on her approach.

"Depending on a hard or soft Brexit, that number might be slightly less than that, so it's going to be updated all the time", its United Kingdom chief executive Ian Stuart told BBC television.

In her letter triggering the two-year Brexit process on March 29, May had insisted that Britain wanted to discuss them in parallel.

"And actually, getting over the fence, there might be some fresh grass out there".

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