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Monday, 19 June 2017 16:08

With the clock ticking, Britain, EU play up chance of deal

Written by  Reuters

BRUSSELS The British and EU Brexit negotiators agreed how to organize talks on Britain's divorce at a first meeting in Brussels on Monday, where both sides stressed goodwill but also the huge complexity and tight deadline.

"We've laid solid foundations for future discussions and an ambitious but achievable timetable," said David Davis, Britain's Brexit minister, adding he was "encouraged" by the first talks. But the European Union's Michel Barnier made clear little was agreed but an initial calendar and a structure for negotiations.

The talks began almost a year to the day after Britain shocked Europe by voting to cut loose from the 28-nation EU, its biggest market.

They also come three months after Prime Minister Theresa May locked Britain into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019. Perhaps more important, they begin just 10 days after a humbling election setback revived divisions within May's government on what kind of relationship it wants with the EU.

Davis brushed off a suggestion that a weakened Conservative government had dropped objections to a Brussels timetable, which would deal first with EU priorities, including its demand Britain settle a "Brexit bill", and leave the talks on free trade that May wants until at least late this year.

Read more at Reuters

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