Britain, EU start historic Brexit talks

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The chief Brexit negotiators of the European Union and Britain began talks on Monday by stressing the need to quickly tackle uncertainties in the process and underlining their constructive attitude to reach a deal that is good for all.

Brexit minister David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, to kick off hugely complex withdrawal negotiations that are expected to last less than two years.

"My clear view, and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain, is that we should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth, protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward", he said.

"The most important thing I think now is for us to look to the horizon, think about the future, and think about the new partnership, the deep and special partnership that we want to build with our friends".

Britain gave official notification that it would leave the European Union at the end of March, meaning it will leave the bloc, which is its biggest trading partner, in March 2019.

He said once there was sufficient progress on those, the talks would start looking at the EU's new relationship with Britain.

Brexit talks are officially underway.

Mrs 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.

Almost a year to the day since Britons shocked themselves and their neighbours by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main trading partner, and nearly three months since Prime Minister Theresa May locked them into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019, almost nothing about the future is clear. That will involve everything from deciding what waters each side can fish in to how nuclear agreements should be renegotiated.

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The most senior officials on either side will lead work on efforts to resolve the problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a situation Mr Barnier acknowledged was "politically sensitive" at a time when the Tory government was seeking the support of the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up Mrs May's minority government.

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

A year after Britons shocked the continent by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main export market, new debate within Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet on precisely what kind of trading relationship to pursue has perplexed European Union leaders, who warn time is tight to agree terms before Britain leaves in 2019.

Threats by Britain to walk away without a deal have also anxious European capitals.

The EU insists that a trade deal can only formally be adopted after withdrawal, though the United Kingdom hopes this will happen very swiftly, with necessary negotiations completed before Brexit day.

The Commission said: "The opening of negotiations at political level next week will focus on issues related to citizens' rights, the financial settlement, the Northern Irish border and other separation issues, as part of the sequenced approach to the talks".

Davis, the UK's Brexit secretary, struck a more upbeat tone, grinning for the cameras before insisting that recent terrorist attacks and fires in Europe showed how the continent could still come together in moments of crisis.

EU and British negotiators say the first day of negotiations on Britain's departure from the European Union was productive in outlining the program ahead and setting out the first challenges to settle, especially the rights of citizens living on each other's territory.

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