Britain, EU to start historic Brexit talks

Before the United Kingdom general election just over a week ago, British prime minister Theresa May was talking tough, signalling that "no deal was better than a bad deal" - but this rhetoric has evaporated after her party lost their parliamentary majority.

The U.K. and the European Union started talks on Britain's exit from the bloc Monday morning, nearly a year after the U.K. voted to leave, with EU chief negotiator saying he hoped the two sides can start removing the uncertainties created by that decision.

'The UK will remain a committed partner and ally of our friends across the continent.

With a further million British expatriates in the EU, May too wants a deal on citizens' rights, though the two sides are some way apart.

His anger was evident in his criticism of his party for having not focused more on the economy, which has performed more strongly than predicted in the year since Britons voted by a narrow majority to leave the European Union. "A deal like no other in history".

Monday's talks however are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said.

May's election debacle has revived feuding over Europe among Conservatives that her predecessor David Cameron hoped to end by calling the referendum and leaves European Union leaders unclear on her plan for a "global Britain" which majority regard as pure folly.

As the political landscape has proven to be so unpredictable over the a year ago or more, no-one is confidently predicting the outcomes of the Brexit talks, however, especially due to their complexity.

The EU says it will not compromise on its core "four freedoms": free movement of goods, capital, services and workers.

Currently, Europeans have the right to live, work, study and claim welfare benefits in Britain, as they do anywhere in the 28-nation union. However, it seems unlikely he will be able to resist public comment on the Brexit process, which he has described as a "tragedy".

The next set of talks will begin on July 17.

The third key issue is the future of the peace process in the British province of Northern Ireland, and the status of the border with the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, finance minister Philip Hammond said a "no deal" outcome "would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain".

The Conservatives delayed the State Opening as the party held discussions with the DUP.

Barnier has said a divorce deal should be ready by October next year to give time for parliamentary approval.

But the agreement appeared at odds with British Prime Minister Theresa May's earlier insistence that the divorce and the future relationship should be discussed in parallel.

Many in Britain have seen the election result as repudiating May's threats to walk away without a deal.

- June 21 - The Queen's Speech sets out details of extensive UK Government legislation required to put Brexit into effect, expected to include a Great Repeal Bill bringing European Union laws and regulations onto the British statute book, as well as bills on issues including immigration and customs.

But EU officials are sceptical that May's position has changed, just as they are doubtful about the feasibility of either option. "This is a deal that when finally agreed will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK".

  • Zachary Reyes