The official Brexit negotiations have begun

Brussels has vowed it will not begin trade talks until it is paid - but Theresa May has said they must start immediately and occur at the same time.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, and David Davis, the UK Brexit minister, stressed after their talks in Brussels that an exit deal was achievable, but both conceded the talks were up against the clock, with Britain set to leave the European Union in March 2019, the FT reported.

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

"Both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership", Davis said.

Barnier also outlined a two-step negotiation timetable to ensure an orderly withdrawal for Britain, which put the future EU-Britain relations, particularly trade ties, in the second phase.

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"The United Kingdom has made a decision to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around", Mr Barnier said.

However Environment Secretary and staunch Leave campaigner Michael Gove said he still wanted to "take back control of our laws and our borders". "The consequences are substantial".

However, Mr Davis said the offer would not be published until next Monday, after Theresa May briefs European Union leaders on her intentions at a summit at the end of this week. A separate dialogue on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been launched, with Mr Davis and Mr Barnier insisting that it should be discussed at "the highest level".

The British and EU Brexit negotiators agreed how to organise talks on Britain's divorce at a first meeting in Brussels on Monday, where both sides stressed goodwill but also the huge complexity and tight deadline.

Legal commentator David Allen Green said the Tories had "capitulated on day one".

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He also reassured: "We will never work against the United Kingdom". "That is what I said to David today", he said, promising there would be "no hostility on my side".

Mr Barnier did not mention a third European Union priority - that Britain settle a bill of tens of billions of euros before it leaves in 21 months.

Former French foreign minister Barnier said: "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit, first for citizens but also for the beneficiaries of European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland". "The United Kingdom will no longer enjoy the same rights and advantages as European Union member states ..." And our promise to you is that we will always strive to provide indispensable journalism to our community.

He characterised the first discussions as "very productive" and added: "We have laid a solid foundation for future discussions with an ambitious but eminently achievable timetable. Now, we have a shared responsibility to deliver quick and substantive progress".

For his part, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, promised a "constructive attitude" to the talks and saying that a "fair deal" was possible.

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Mountaineering and its peril have already featured in the EU-UK exchanges, with Mr Barnier last month advising Ms May on the dangers of Brexit after discovering they too share a passion for hill-walking. Meanwhile, a poll published by the Mail on Sunday shows overwhelming opposition to a hard Brexit with two thirds supporting the softer approach advocated by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

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