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Britain, EU to start historic Brexit talks

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A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier (R) and the governor of the Bank of Finland, Erkki Liikanen, at a press conference in Brussels, Oct. 2, 2012.

Merkel said Monday: "I think it is premature to speculate on the first day of the negotiations how they will end". However, the shock result and loss of a Conservative majority has reopened the debate over what sort of Brexit Britain wants.

For the officials sitting down on Monday, at least on the European Union side, a major worry is Britain crashing out into a limbo, with no deal.

Brexit negotiations which could define the UK's political and economic future have begun, with David Davis calling for a "new deep and special partnership" between Britain and Brussels.

Monday morning's terror attack in London and devastating fires in Portugal reminded him that "there is more that unites us than divides us".

Davis is to meet Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, to kick off hugely complex withdrawal negotiations that are expected to conclude within two years. Phase one is likely to cover the terms of Britain's withdrawal, which will take place in four or five cycles of talks over the summer until October, or November at the latest.

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Subjects for the negotiations include the status of expats, the Northern Ireland border and the so-called "divorce bill".

May herself will also have a chance to update the other 27 European Union leaders on her Brexit plans at a summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

The Brexit Secretary read out a section from May's Article 50 letter, which only seemed to highlight his concession, before adding: "When we eventually get to the point where the Council decide we have made enough progress, both sets of dialogue will continue, including free trade, not just trade, including customs, security, obviously cooperation in all sorts of ways". While denying they want to punish their neighbor, European Union officials have warned Britain off trying to "cherry pick" the benefits of membership and said it will be left worse off outside the bloc than inside. "We keep hearing only what they don't want, but we don't have any picture of what future relations will look like". The Irish issue, long described as a priority for both, will be treated somewhat differently; avoiding a "hard border" will necessarily have to take account of how the rest of EU-UK trade will work.

The United Kingdom has chose to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around.

Both sides acknowledged the clock was ticking, with the date for the UK's departure from the European Union fixed for March 2019.

"The aim of the new clause is to provide additional certainty for clients as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union", Chris Jones, director of legal and market services at the IUA, said in a statement.

Davis and Barnier both admitted the Irish border question dominated the first negotiating session, but there did seem to be progress on the issue of European Union citizens' rights.

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