Brexit negotiations begin in Brussels

Remainer Hammond Draws Up Plans for Soft Brexit			Leon Neal  Getty Images		by Donna Rachel Edmunds17 Jun 20170		17 Jun 2017		17 Jun 2017

Remainer Hammond Draws Up Plans for Soft Brexit Leon Neal Getty Images by Donna Rachel Edmunds17 Jun 20170 17 Jun 2017 17 Jun 2017

Britain should ensure that employers retain access to both skilled and unskilled workers from the European Union as it begins talks to leave the bloc or there is a risk of damaging United Kingdom businesses, a research report by two think tanks said on Monday.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted past year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

But that entire approach has come under question following a general election earlier this month in which Prime Minister Theresa May lost her Conservative party's parliamentary majority.

May does not necessarily need a firm deal from the DUP before opening parliament and might hope that she would receive the necessary backing anyway.

The Conservatives now only have 317 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons and need the support of the DUP's 10 MPs for a razor-thin majority.

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Adding to what Queen Elizabeth II called the "sombre national mood" have been three terrorist attacks in three months and a fire in a London tower block in which 58 people are presumed dead. But the government will double the length of the session to let lawmakers debate Britain's approach to Brexit without interruption.

"We should be protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity", he said in Luxembourg last week.

The EU says it wants to avoid the return of a "hard border" with Ireland that would require passport controls and customs checks, but how that will be possible without Britain staying part of the EU single market or customs union is not clear.

Hundreds of protesters chanting "we want justice" stormed a local town hall on Friday afternoon and May had to leave a meeting with residents under heavy police guard. "That's a statement of legal fact", he told BBC television.

The EU says Britain must honour its contributions to the bloc's budget, which has already been agreed up to 2020, as well as commitments to development programmes for poorer member states. But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.

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Talks will begin at 0900 GMT with a joint press conference by former French foreign minister and European commissioner Barnier and Davis at around 1630 GMT.

Davis's agreement to Monday's agenda led some European Union officials to believe that May's government may at last coming around to Brussels' view of how negotiations should be run.

Britain and the European Union are already at odds over the order of the talks, with London insisting future trade ties should be discussed at the same time as the divorce despite opposition from Brussels. And Hammond described the divorce bill figures being bandied around in Brussels as "the most egregious pre-negotiation posturing".

Philip Hammond has warned failing to secure a Brexit deal would be "very, very bad" for Britain ahead of the start of exit talks in Brussels on Monday. The chancellor said he would reject any deal "designed to destroy us".

While Sinn Féin will not be best pleased that the DUP will have such a pivotal role in facilitating the Brexit process, given that the majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union in last year's referendum, their influence on the British government may help make it a softer exit, which would suit the Republic of Ireland better.

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On Sunday, the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, flew to Washington DC on his first trade trip since the election.

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