United Kingdom finance minister Hammond seeks 'pragmatic' Brexit

United Kingdom finance minister Hammond seeks 'pragmatic' Brexit

The announcement of the formal start of discussions was agreed on Thursday between Britain's Brexit minister David Davis and the European Commission's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Davis, who unlike May has long campaigned to leave the EU, will meet chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, a former French minister, at the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters at 11am (0900 GMT).

"Both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership", Davis said.

Other official at the table included Glynn Williams - director general at the Home Office, Mark Bowman - director general, worldwide finance at HM Treasury, Simon Case - director general, UK-EU partnership team, Alex Ellis - director general at the Department for Exiting the European Union, Jane Walker - aide to David Davis and Christian Jones - press secretary to David Davis.

Both Davis and Barnier appeared to acknowledge they have a mountain to climb in the talks - by giving each other hiking-related gifts.

"I believe it will be a great settlement between Britain and the EU", Johnson wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper, adding: "one that will end the bickering and resistance that has marked so much of our relationship over the last few decades".

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain a year ago voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first country ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

If the United Kingdom opts for a Brexit in which it leaves the Single Market and the Customs Union, the Irish border would become a closed border unless negotiators can agree on creative solutions.

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However Environment Secretary and staunch Leave campaigner Michael Gove said he still wanted to "take back control of our laws and our borders".

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised the unity of the remaining 27 European Union countries, who have been alarmed in recent weeks by May's threats to walk out of the talks.

"Preserving the rights of the millions of EU citizens affected by Brexit, securing the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland and honouring the financial commitments made by the British government will be indispensable in securing the European Parliament's approval of a potential exit deal".

Working groups will be set up to focus on three key areas - the status of EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the EU; the divorce bill for Britain; and the future of the Northern Irish border with EU member Ireland. As the European Union has itself said, "nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed". Britain, he insisted would avoid EU's attempts at time pressure "at every turn".

For that reason, Brussels wants as a priority to guarantee rights for 3 million European Union citizens in Britain and be paid tens of billions of euros it says London will owe on its departure.

But instead she lost her parliamentary majority, putting that hard-line approach and her political future in doubt after the disastrous June 8 election.

"We're leaving the EU and because we are leaving the EU, we will be leaving the single market and by the way, we will be leaving the customs union".

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