United Kingdom hope for Brexit deal like 'no other'

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.

"This first session was useful, we start off on the right foot as the clock is ticking", Barnier told a joint press conference with British counterpart David Davis.

"Davis and Barnier have one key issue over the first weeks of talks: building trust after months of haggling over leaks and figures over the final bill that Britain would have to pay for leaving".

The talks should be completed by April 2019, but could be extended if all 27 European Union countries agree.

"A fair deal is possible and far better than no deal", the French former European Union commissioner said.

Little is expected of the first day's negotiations, with it unlikely that anything definitive will be laid out for some time.

"We have to clear the accounts and we have to honour our mutual financial commitments".

Barnier made clear that Brussels intends to stick to its timetable of dealing with the terms of Britain's withdrawal before moving on to discussing future trade relations.

Davis said the talks were off to a "promising start" and denied that Britain had caved in on the sequencing of the talks. The election left an image of a dysfunctional Britain coming up against a well-oiled European Union negotiating machine.

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, known by its German initials VDMA, says that that goal of the two-year negotiating process is "damage limitation" because Brexit won't benefit either side. Such firms sold 7.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of goods to customers in Britain a year ago, their fourth-biggest market.

"While there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations we will do all that we can to ensure that we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all citizens".

In a brief appearance before beginning talks with Barnier, Davis said, "There is more that unites us than divides us".

He added: "The United Kingdom has made a decision to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around".

The storm clouds began to gather in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, when investors quickly sent the pound to its lowest level in decades over fears that Britain would lose preferential access to Europe's vast markets. "In a second step, we will scope our future partnership".

Still, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remained upbeat Monday, saying he thinks the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".

The negotiations kick off in Brussels on Monday with Britain under pressure for stalling the talks and entering the negotiations without a working parliamentary majority fully in place.

Johnson called on people to look at the more distant future.

  • Leroy Wright