A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started

May, bruised by an election this month that cost her Conservatives their parliamentary majority, will make her case for a quick agreement on residency for EU nationals and employment rights at a summit of European leaders in the Belgian capital later this week.

While the European Union negotiating team led by Michel Barnier has been ready for months, Britain stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said, "If we don't succeed, both sides will lose".

He quoted the founder of the trading bloc that later became the European Union, Jean Monnet, as saying: "I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic". "The pessimist see difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty".

Regarding the future relationship with the European Union, the secretary said that Britain hasn't changed its position despite the Conservative majority was wiped out after the snap election on June 8.

He said: "My own suspicion is that although it is in their economic interest, they will conclude for political reasons that they don't want to give us free trade because they want it to look painful for Britain to leave".

They also said their top deputies would immediately begin work on a third issue: How to avoid a "hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland that could endanger peace in a region that suffered decades of violence.

After a day of discussions, which both sides said had been constructive, Mr Davis and Mr Barnier announced a timetable and a structure to...

The Brexit Secretary said: "The position hasn't changed, we have the Lancaster House speech, the two white papers, and the Article 50 letter, all backed up by a manifesto too". Now that Northern Ireland is leaving the European Union, what will happen on the border between it and Ireland remains a question.

The EU expects Britain to honor spending commitments it made as a member by settling a final bill. And most European political observers saw the first day as a capitulation.

The move backfired, May lost her Conservative majority in the vote and has been fending off critics of her leadership ever since.

While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.

It was a clear rebuff to May's stated ambition of wrapping up a new free trade agreement quickly. The UK is going to leave the EU, the single market and the Customs Union, not the other way around. "We keep hearing only what they don't want, but we don't have any picture of what future relations will look like".

In carefully choreographed talks that even saw the two men exchange mountaineering gifts, they agreed to discuss divorce issues before negotiations on a future trade deal can start.

Barnier however said that "a fair deal is possible and is far better than no deal - that is what I said to David today".

If no exit agreement is reached by March 2019, Britain will face the prospect of trading under higher tariffs and more red tape.

He added: "It's not as if Europe is leaving Britain; Britain wants to leave the EU".

  • Zachary Reyes