Britain and European Union launch Brexit talks in Brussels

Brexit Secretary David Davis will call for a "deal like no other in history" as he heads to Brussels to launch negotiations for Britain's exit from the European Union.

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 starts formal talks to leave the European Union onMonday, seeking a deal "like no other in history" despite entering fiendishly hard negotiations with a badly weakened government.

The agenda for the meeting was agreed earlier this month following preparatory "talks about talks".

Mrs May called the election in a bid to increase her majority and strengthen her hand within her party ahead of the Brexit talks.

The government is due to present its legislative programme at the opening of parliament on Wednesday, which will be followed by a key confidence vote several days later.

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"Many people are afraid that what is presented as a very generous offer will not be seen as very generous, which could really contribute to a negative atmosphere", a European source said.

"Perhaps there is now a chance to achieve a so-called soft Brexit". But the government will double the length of the session to let lawmakers debate Britain's approach to Brexit without interruption.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "maybe there is now a chance to achieve a so-called "soft Brexit.'" But he said staying in the single market would require Britain to accept European Union workers" freedom of movement.

The question is not whether we are leaving the customs union.

"The fact they are coming and that they agree to talk about the subjects that we set out, shows that the clash is under control", a senior European official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Sir John Major should lead cross-party talks on Brexit if negotiations collapsed, the government's infrastructure tsar has suggested.

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But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.

The "hardball" European Commission chief negotiator will be across the table from Mr Davis and has already been established as a something of a villain for Brexiteers.

The BBC has been told by European Union sources that the talks will follow the EU's preferred pattern of exit negotiations first, with the future relations between the two sides - including the free trade deal the United Kingdom is seeking - at a later date.

And Hammond described the divorce bill figures being bandied around in Brussels as "the most egregious pre-negotiation posturing". "A deal like no other in history".

Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Britain's lower legislative house, said that Brexit would require a lot of legislation, including a law to enshrine current European Union rules into British law, known as the "Great Repeal Bill".

The chancellor said he would reject any deal "designed to destroy us".

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