UK, EU's historic Brexit talks commence

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"David Davis said the row of the summer would be over the sequencing of Brexit talks and, one day in, he has capitulated", declared Tim Farron.

After the opening of Brexit negotiations on June 19, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis said discussions so far had been "productive" and both sides had been "constructive".

Terms of reference agreed by both sides envisage four rounds of talks on the first phase of discussions, in the weeks starting July 17, August 28, September 18 and October 9, implying trade talks are unlikely to open until after the European Council summit of October 18/19. Both sides want transparency to be the default.

In carefully choreographed talks that even saw the two men exchange mountaineering gifts, they agreed to discuss divorce issues before negotiations on a future trade deal can start.

They denied strongly that Ireland had been sidelined and said it had been the issue which consumed most of their time on Monday and was technically most hard.

May's government said in a statement it was "confident it can achieve a bold and ambitious deal that will work in the interest of the whole UK".

For his part, Davis rejected suggestions that he had caved in to European Union demands, insisting what matters is how the talks end, not how they start.

"That position hasn't changed, it's the same as it was before", said Davis, a tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign in last year's Brexit referendum. "The United Kingdom is going to leave the European Union, single market and the customs union, not the other way around", Barnier said.

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He added that the United Kingdom would seek to set up a free trade arrangement and a custom agreement. Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted a year ago to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

Britain enters the negotiations with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May facing huge political challenges at home following an election which saw her Conservative party lose its majority in Parliament.

Brexit negotiations have finally begun in Brussels, nearly a year to the day after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Sounding conciliatory, Britain's Boris Johnson said as he arrived at a meeting with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg that he looked forward to "a happy revolution" in relations that would be good for Britain and the rest of Europe.

"We will then publish a detailed paper outlining our offer on (next) Monday which I believe will form the right basis on which to reach agreement", he said.

The Governor said "mixed signals" on consumer spending and business investment meant it was "not yet the time" to start raising rates from a record low of 0.25pc.

But Union leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to follow. Both sides need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world's biggest trading bloc and the fifth-largest global economy.

"We have to clear accounts and we have to honor financial commitments", said Barnier, who spoke to reporters in English and French. But he also refused to discuss concessions to Britons who, in the eyes of most European Union leaders, are committing an act of self-harm.

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