Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

At their first meeting in Brussels on Monday, British and European Union negotiators agreed on a timetable for the Brexit talks. "It was a clear rebuff to May's stated ambition of wrapping up a new free trade agreement quickly".

"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. "This includes telling government which elements of European Union membership we need to maintain to enable us to continue to grow the sector, boost productivity, and deliver prosperity for all". "It's not the other way around". "And the consequences are substantial".

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

Both sides acknowledged the clock was ticking, with the date for the UK's departure from the European Union fixed for March 2019. "The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", another European source said. "We need to bring back to Britain control of our laws and control of our borders", he said.

Discussions aimed at preserving the Good Friday Agreement and common travel area in Ireland will begin, although Davis suggested these issues may not be settled until the end of the process, when the UK's trade relationship with the European Union is settled, the BBC reported.

But EU leaders say that before trade talks can begin they want to work out three other issues.

Today's talks however are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said. And it was useful for me to sit down with my counterpart, David Davis. "We have taken the first critical steps together; now we have a shared responsibility to deliver quick and substantive progress", he said.

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David Davis is taking his Brexit message across Europe after suffering a setback in Brussels.

British sources have insisted the sovereignty of the Rock is not up for discussion as part of the Brexit talks, which began in Brussels on Monday. It is in the interests of both parties to agree a great new relationship. Their early priority will be to reassure the estimated 4.5 million European and British nationals living in each others' countries that they won't be forced to leave their homes or find new jobs after Brexit.

He rejected the idea that Britain had given way to the European Union on sequence on day one, insisting nothing had changed despite prime minister Theresa May's failure to secure a majority in the United Kingdom general election this month.

A detailed paper will then be published on Monday, Mr Davis confirmed.

THERESA MAY will tell European leaders her plan to offer European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom safeguards over their rights later this week after Brussels insisted the issue must be settled before talks on future trade relations can get under way.

Both sides were determined to give the talks a positive spin, with Mr Davis and Mr Barnier exchanging mountaineering gifts - a walking stick and a book on hiking - ahead of the all-day meeting.

And the commission provided lunch: Belgian asparagus (from Malines) with vinaigrette, red mullet with vegetables and fondant potatoes, vacherin (meringue cake) with wild strawberries. There will be no hostility on my side.

  • Sonia Alvarado