Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations Monday

George Soros says Britain's next election could cancel the UK's divorce with the EU

George Soros says Britain's next election could cancel the UK's divorce with the EU

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond yesterday said London Britain must prioritise prosperity in Brexit talks with the European Union that begin next week in Brussels. However, in a significant concession, Britain's negotiators have now agreed to an European Union demand to delay talks on a new trading relationship.

At talks with his counterparts in the 28-country EU, Philip Hammond said his "clear view and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward".

"We've laid solid foundations for future discussions and an ambitious but achievable timetable", said David Davis, Britain's Brexit minister on Monday, adding he was "encouraged" by the first talks.

This first meeting will last just a day with a joint news conference expected by both Mr Davis and Mr Barnier when they emerge. "That is why we will work all the time with the United Kingdom, and never against the United Kingdom".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has written to Mr Davis urging him to "reset" the Government's "belligerent and reckless" approach to leaving the EU.

"It's not when it starts it's how it finishes that matters", he said. This must be taken into account, according to Asselborn.

"They should be agreed alongside each other, this is completely consistent with the Council's guidelines which state nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".

The Brexit Secretary said: "The position hasn't changed". Sources close to Mr Davis said over the weekend he is willing to make "major" concessions in accepting that timeframe on Monday.

"It's not about punishment, it is not about revenge".

"We will leave the customs union when we leave the European Union".

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Asked whether Davis had shifted his position, a British official referred to a statement released by Davis's ministry on Friday which repeated calls for the withdrawal terms and future relationship to be "agreed alongside each other". "It is not the other way around.So we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decision, and the consequences are substantial".

"And the consequences are substantial".

Those were, he said, the rights of expatriate citizens and problems of a new EU-UK border, notably cutting across Ireland. The talks will be hard, but he is expecting that all points will be approached in a constructive way.

It translates as: "What is important is not to be optimistic, nor pessimistic, but to be determined". Davis said the talks would be carried out in "a positive and constructive tone", with Britain looking to forge a "strong and special partnership for the future".

"Now, we have a shared responsibility to deliver quick and substantive progress".

For another, the combination of finally launching talks on Monday and May being at the summit on Thursday and Friday made the coming week a key opportunity to "rebuild trust" after tempers had boiled over on both sides in recent months.

To kick the Brexit negotiations off, David Davis and Michel Barnier exchanged mountain-themed gifts, of a hiking book and walking stick.

Britain's political instability has caused concerns in European capitals hoping to get the negotiations over with quickly and cleanly, as has May's oft-repeated threat to walk away from the talks without a deal if necessary. For the officials sitting down on Monday, at least on the European Union side, a major worry is Britain crashing out into a limbo, with no deal.

A terms of reference document setting out the rules for both sides also states: "For both parties the default is transparency".

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