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Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

19 June 2017

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At stake in hugely complex talks that are expected to conclude by March 2019 is not just Britain's future but a Western political order that would be badly shaken by a failure to reach a deal.

The discussions will include working groups, and meetings of Brexit coordinators from both sides, before a joint press conference at 6.30pm. "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", centering on citizens living on each other's territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain stands to pay to get out of its previous European Union commitments, Barnier said.

He said he hoped that during their single day of talks, he and Mr Davis would be able to identify priorities and a timetable for the ongoing negotiations, so that he can report back to leaders of the other 27 EU states at the European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday.

But he said that Monday morning's terror attack in London and the devastating fires in Portugal reminded him that "there is more that unites us than divides us".

Parliament normally sits for one year, but officials said late Saturday night more time will be needed.

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A statement from the department said Davis will lead a team of negotiators to Brussels "confident that he can get a positive outcome and secure a new deep and special partnership with the EU" and that he will also set out "a bold vision for the UK's future after it leaves the EU".

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.

And even when May finally triggered the two-year unraveling process on March 29, she followed it up with an early election she counted on winning big, only to lose her majority in the June 8 poll.

The negotiations begin despite May yet failing to have agreed a deal with the DUP to support her government's Queen's Speech next week.

Amid concerns that political uncertainty in Britain could delay meaningful negotiations, the two leaders stressed their opening day on Monday would mainly deal with the timing and structure of the divorce talks, which the European Union insists cannot yet deal with issues of trade.

But Brussels has ruled out any consideration of those issues until progress has been made on its key demands - Britain's exit bill, estimated by Brussels at around €100 billion (RM478.3 billion); the rights of three million European Union nationals living in Britain and the one million Britons on the continent; and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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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 - in a shock referendum result.

Ever since the United Kingdom invoked Article 50 in March, triggering its formal intention to leave the EU, the European side has said it was ready to begin negotiations.

Mr Hammond will promise to be a "voice of business" at Brexit talks when he delivers tomorrow's delayed Mansion House address. However, other senior figures have threatened to force a vote of no confidence in her leadership if the plans are watered down.

"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, another European source said.

We are going to talk about new borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Finance minister Philip Hammond confirmed Sunday that it was still the plan to quit not only the EU but the customs union and single market as well.

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