Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday

"We will continue with those negotiations throughout the weekend and into next week".

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has long argued that the initial talks should center on brokering deals on citizens' rights, money owed by the United Kingdom and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Luxembourg, he said: "As we go into that negotiation, my clear view - and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain - is that we should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward".

Only if "sufficient progress" is made on those thorny topics will he allow discussions to turn to the trade deal that May wants.


He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership in the single market and said May's minority government will negotiate in a "pragmatic" manner, striving for a solution that works for both sides. "We are clear this is what is set out in Article 50". There must be unanimous agreement by the EU's 27 other members for that to happen and officials have said that's only likely to come in October at the earliest. "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account". "The withdrawal and future are intimately linked". "That has always been our first aim and that is what we will do".

But the Government will press ahead with the first round of Brexit talks two days before the official opening of Parliament. Britain's prime minister has opened talks with a Northern Ireland-based party Tuesday to see if they can create an alliance to push through the Conservative Party's agenda after a disastrous snap election left her short of a majority in Parliament.

Her spokesman said Britain would not change its stance on Brexit, though May told her lawmakers she would seek a broader consensus in the party on her approach.

Critics of her approach have urged her to give ground in order to safeguard jobs and the economy.


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