Britain-EU Brexit talks to start Monday as planned

Theresa May signalled the starting gun for Brexit talks on 28 March 2017 when she signed the letter triggering Article 50.

Ministers have already said that the Queen's Speech may have to be set back from its scheduled date of next Monday June 19, because of the ongoing negotiations.

The European Parliament, which named former Belgian prime minister Verhofstadt as its Brexit pointman past year, will have the final say on any deal on Britain's exit from the EU.

"We are continuing to have talks but today, as you will imagine, there has been a real focus on this bad tragedy in London", May said.

May now faces the task of satisfying both the pro-European and eurokceptic factions of her party, keeping Northern Ireland calm and negotiating a divorce with 27 other European Union members whose combined economic might is more than five times that of Britain.

Meanwhile, a Conservative source told Reuters talks with the DUP have been very positive and constructive so far with broad agreement on some principles, but they are not putting a time frame on when a deal will be done.

The Labour leader, who appeared chipper after last Thursday's general election, fired a number of barbs at the Prime Minister - most notably welcoming the possibility of a new "Coalition of Chaos" between the Tories and the DUP.

May desperately needs the Democratic Unionist Party's 10 seats to pass legislation.

The state opening will be followed by days of parliamentary debate and a confidence vote that will be the first major challenge for the new government.

While the DUP continue to hammer out the details of the arrangement with the Tories, the other four main parties at Stormont confirmed they would be meeting Mrs May on Thursday.

He told the Press Association the British government could not act as a "neutral facilitator" in Northern Ireland, as the Good Friday Agreement envisages, if it was dependent on one of the Northern Irish parties for its majority in the House of Commons.

The PM has rejected claims the deal would undermine its duty to be impartial in Northern Ireland.

The delegation of Sinn Féin - whose seven MPs refuse to take their seats at Westminster - is expected to include Mrs O'Neill, party president Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, the party's deputy leader and a member of the Irish parliament.

But the other Stormont parties have warned that any deal between the DUP and Conservatives could make restoring power sharing more hard.

- Deal or no deal?

Same-sex marriage campaigners in Northern Ireland have urged thousands of people to take to the streets in protest against the DUP.

Though the UK's trade agreement with the European Union is the talk of the town, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that Ministers are also touring the world searching for trade.

London, Belfast, Dublin and Brussels all want to keep the border open, but no agreement has been reached.

Ahead of the start of talks Michael Gove, agriculture and environment minster, said aligning with Arlene Foster's DUP was aimed at "strengthening" the UK.

Theresa May insisted the Government was "absolutely steadfast" in its commitment to the Northern Irish peace process as she faced questions on whether a DUP-Tory alliance would put fragile agreements at risk. "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".

"The prime minister has totally ignored the will of those people in terms of Brexit".

  • Leroy Wright