Britain says will be 'positive and constructive' in Brexit talks

"We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit - first for citizens but also for the beneficiaries of the European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland", Barnier told reporters at the start of the talks.

"This first session was useful, we start off on the right foot as the clock is ticking", he said during a joint press conference with Mr Davis.

Officials charged with negotiating the first departure of a country from the European Union were in Brussels on Monday to kick off the most consequential series of talks for the United Kingdom since the end of World War II. The two sides will hold four further monthly rounds of talks with the aim of getting the remaining 27 European Union countries to agree this autumn to move on to the trade talks phase.

Mr Davis and his team are holding meetings with their opposite numbers at the European Commission, which is leading negotiations on behalf of the EU member states.

Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

With discontent in europhile Scotland and troubled Northern Ireland, which faces a new European Union border across the divided island, Brexit poses new threats to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

The German Foreign Minister made the comments as withdrawal negotiations begin in Brussels between Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Davis said the talks were off to a "promising start" and denied that Britain had caved in on the sequencing of the talks.

Hammond said there needs to be a buffer period to avoid a "damaging" outcome following demands from companies for a softer Brexit.

Finance minister Philip Hammond confirmed Sunday that it was still the plan to quit not only the EU but the customs union and single market as well.

Anxious by mass immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain past year voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-nation bloc in a shock referendum result. However the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, lost her absolute majority.

After seven hours of talks in Brussels, Mr Davis - who had previously promised the "row of the summer" over the timetable for the negotiations - said he was optimistic about the talks.

Barnier however said that "a fair deal is possible and is far better than no deal - that is what I said to David today". "I think it was a mistake that we didn't spend more time and resources taking apart Jeremy Corbyn's economic proposals and his spending plans, which are frankly incredible and would do enormous damage to this country, to our jobs, to our economy". Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other European Union countries into Britain.

"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, a European source said.

Time and time again expat groups, politicians and think tanks have urged both sides in the talks to get on with discussing citizen rights to alleviate the anxiety of millions of people who have chosen to make their life in another country. The election of the fervently europhile Macron, and his party's sweep of the French parliament on Sunday, has revived optimism in Brussels.

"In the first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues".

  • Zachary Reyes