Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday

Philip Hammond, Britain's finance minister, says protecting the British economy should be the main objective of upcoming negotiations over the country's exit from the European Union.

The talks also gave her the opportunity to try to reassure the other parties that a tie-up with the DUP would not compromise Britain's impartiality in the delicate Northern Ireland peace process.

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) said it had been "crystal clear" about its approach to Brexit talks.

"We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens", he said.

Mr Davis is expected to meet Mr Barnier at the Commission's headquarters in Belgian capital Brussels on Monday but it is not known how long the initial round of talks will last.

The Queen's Speech was delayed and will now take place on Wednesday.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: "The Conservatives can not go from weak and wobbly to business as usual in three days".

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Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called for a cross-party committee to be set up to handle the Brexit negotiations.

The prospect of Brexit has sent a wave of concern through Britain's business sector.

He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership in the single market and said May's minority government will negotiate in a "pragmatic" manner, striving for a solution that works for both sides.

"All the options are balanced and come with obligations", an European Union official working on Brexit said, noting that May had seemed to be looking for a sweeping free trade deal like that agreed past year with Canada but that some of those calling for "soft" Brexit cited arrangements such as those with Norway and Turkey.

There are also differences over the other priority issue for Brussels - securing the rights of 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain - but diplomats see those as less problematic. "That is why we are pushing ahead with negotiations on Monday".

The EU's executive Commission said in a statement Friday that the first round of negotiations in Brussels will be part of a "sequenced approach to the talks".

"And actually, getting over the fence, there might be some fresh grass out there".

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