Honda not clear if United Kingdom listening to sector's Brexit needs

May officially triggered the two-year Brexit process in March when she was riding high in opinion polls, and called for fresh elections shortly afterwards to shore up her mandate for a tough Brexit stance. "It was a clear rebuff to May's stated ambition of wrapping up a new free trade agreement quickly". "I hope this is the first day of the beginning of the end and that we will be shot of this place very soon". It took us nine months to write a letter to say we are leaving. "It's not the other way around".

"And the consequences are substantial".

A key issue he did not mention was the EU's bill for Britain to leave, which Brussels estimates at a colossal 100 billion euros.

Yesterday's meeting at the European Commission's Berlaymont building was largely a formality to agree the timetable and the format for the negotiations.

He pushed back against speculation that the United Kingdom might seek to soften Brexit by trying to remain in the EU's single market and tariff-free customs union.

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He said: "It is at testing times like these that we are reminded of the values and the resolve that we share with our closest allies in Europe".

Just a month ago, Davis had predicted "the row of the summer" would erupt over how to structure the talks on Brexit.

Barnier, following the talks in a joint press conference with Davis, said: "Today we agreed on dates". By Monday, he'd given up the fight.

Davis has said he was "encouraged by the constructive approach" as the talks began.

This letter also presses for an early deal giving guarantees on the rights of European Union citizens working in the UK. The U.K. and European Union hope the first phase of talks focusing on the exit terms will conclude by October, allowing trade negotiations to begin.

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European Union negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Davis, said after the first negotiating session that they were confident of quick progress but that major challenges lie ahead to meet the March 2019 deadline for the U.K.to officially leave the bloc.

The British Chambers of Commerce, CBI, Engineering Employers' Federation, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors have signed a joint letter to the Government, seeking an arrangement where the United Kingdom can "maintain the economic benefits" of the European single market and customs union until a final settlement is agreed.

Both sides were keen to emphasize their desire to work positively and to reach a fair deal that will foster friendly relations once Britain leaves. "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".

The two men and their senior aides dined on Belgian asparagus, red mullet and meringue cake before officials broke off for separate talks. "At rights of citizens there is much common ground", said Davis.

He listed the importance of reaching a rapid deal on the status of European Union nationals and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as priorities, but did not mention the size of the UK's "exit bill" for leaving the bloc, which is bound to be an early sticking-point. "And use the time in between to work on proposals and exchange them". They tried to present a cordial and friendly image to the world at their first session.

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