Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Britain, EU to start historic Brexit talks

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.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday he still thinks that the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".

While the European Union negotiating team led by Barnier has been ready for months, British efforts on Brexit stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

FILE - In this April 3, 2017 file photo, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right, speaks with the United Kingdom permanent representative to the EU, Tim Barrow, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Luxembourg.

His anger was evident in his criticism of his party for having not focused more on the economy, which has performed more strongly than predicted in the year since Britons voted by a narrow majority to leave the European Union.

While EU officials assume that Britain still wants to leave the EU completely, in line with the plan Mrs May's outlined in January, there are other options being planned.

The EU has made its opening position clear.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said last Sunday he wanted a "jobs first" Brexit-a hint that he believes economic concerns should be prioritized over the political demand to cut immigration from the EU.

Amid reports that May is set to make a "generous offer" on the rights of European Union citizens remaining in Britain, the source said London had been warned against doing so this week, on the grounds that it could drag up the thorny issue before talks had really got going.

Nearly exactly a year after Britain's seismic referendum to leave the bloc, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier of France, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a cheery handshake at the European Commission in Brussels.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Brexit talks to lead Britain out of the European Union kicked off on Monday and the chief negotiators are already on a first-name basis. Asked how long the prime minister would remain in office, Hammond dodged the question.

They also said their top deputies would immediately begin work on a third issue: How to avoid a "hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland that could endanger peace in a region that suffered decades of violence.

A former special forces reservist, Davis is expected to be a tough negotiator in Brussels.

Monday's meeting in Brussels might also be cut short after a staff memo advised those in the European Union headquarters to avoid drinking alcohol and leave at 4pm due to hot weather.

The move backfired, May lost her Conservative majority in the vote and has been fending off critics of her leadership ever since.

Davis said Prime Minister May will also set out at an EU summit on Thursday her proposals for the rights of the three million EU nationals living in Britain, and one million Britons in the EU, with the British government to publish a detailed offer next Monday.

It is hardly shocking, then, that Johnson was a prominent leader of the successful referendum campaign to take Britain out of the EU.

Hammond is the first of her ministers to break rank.

The 66-year-old has served four times as a minister in a French government, under presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy. The European Commission calculates the divorce bill will be nearly €100bn (£88bn), although the net figure will likely be closer to €60bn (£53bn).

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