Britain starts formal talks to leave the European Union on Monday, seeking a deal “like no other in history” despite entering fiendishly hard negotiations with a badly weakened government.

The talks begin amid uncertainty on the United Kingdom government’s intentions after British voters appeared to reject its so-called hard Brexit manifesto in a snap election on 8 June, when the ruling Conservative Party lost its majority in parliament.

The talks, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, kicked off just shy of a year after the “Brexit” referendum, in which U.K. voters, by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, chose to leave the EU, and almost three months after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter formally triggering the withdrawal process.

In a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark, they urged the government to “put the economy first”.

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, known by its German initials VDMA, says that that goal of the two-year negotiating process is “damage limitation” because Brexit won’t benefit either side.

In a sign of the progress that has been made, Mr Davis said the Prime Minister would brief fellow European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday on the UK’s approach to the rights of expatriate citizens, which will be set out in detail in a paper on Monday.

The agenda for the meeting was agreed earlier this month following preparatory “talks about talks”.

They will first have to unravel the British from the European Union, which will be challenging to say the least.

It also would have to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, “or at least a joint court that is staffed by Europeans and Britons” and in principle follows the ECJ’s rulings, Gabriel said.

Brussels insists that those living in Britain now should be able to keep those rights after Brexit.

“When we eventually get to the stage where the council decide we have made enough progress, both sets of dialogue will continue, including free trade”.

“Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has taken more time today than anything else”. Britain, he said, would seek to leave both the single market and the customs union and forge a separate trading agreement.

Three key issues will dominate the first phase of the talks.

The EU says it will not compromise on its core “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, capital, services and workers.

Barnier wants agreement on the withdrawal, and on a transitional path to a future relationship, by October 2018, so that the European and British parliaments can ratify the deal by Brexit day in March 2019.

Many in Britain have seen the election result as repudiating May’s threats to walk away without a deal.

When interviewed in Luxembourg last week he twice failed to confirm that Britain would leave the single market. They will each be accompanied by a team of senior officials.

Davis’s agreement to Monday’s agenda led some European Union officials to believe that May’s government may at last be coming around to Brussels’ view of how negotiations should be run.


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