Round 1: Brexit talks start at Brussels

Laura Christensen
July 17, 2017

Barnier said on Monday that the talks, which run to Thursday, would "delve into the heart of the matter".

"I think (the negotiations) could break down quite quickly if, after the autumn, our position on these fundamental issues - the financial settlement, and then the fundamentals of our future relationship - don't move more in the direction of common sense and economic sense", he told The Observer.

Davis and Barnier spent only a half-hour in negotiations Monday, and photographs from the talks featured bulging files of papers on Barnier's side of the table and little evidence on Davis'.

Davis has warned May repeatedly that the uncertain fate of the citizens was souring his meetings with member-states, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg this month.

The British side had urged over the past months an immediate start of trade talks, but Barnier had insisted that key issues of Brexit must be dealt with before trade talks begin.

Monday's talks, however, come amid signs of increasingly serious splits within the United Kingdom government over the preferred approach to the talks, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, complaining on Sunday that he was being briefed against by fellow ministers opposed to his pro-business focus.

May herself was set to call them to order on Tuesday, her spokesman said.

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Hammond himself acknowledged that ministers were divided on other elements of Brexit.

The negotiation is expected to be complicated, as May's minority government will face challenges at every step in the process.

The couple arrived with their children George and Charlotte in Warsaw at the start of a five-day tour.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is in Brussels on separate business, said: "A very fair, serious offer has been put on the table by the UK Government about citizenship, the value we place on the 3.2 million European Union citizens in our country".

Asides from the exit bill, the four-day negotiation will focus on citizens' rights and the border in Northern Ireland, among other issues.

At a separate meeting of foreign ministers, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted that a recent offer by Prime Minister Theresa May for European Union citizens in Britain is "a very fair, serious offer".

Hammond, one of Johnson's main cabinet rivals, said Sunday that Britain will take responsibility for the money it owes, but dismissed the 100-billion-euro figure as "ridiculous".

Other reports by My Hot News

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