Brexit talks begin in Brussels

Britain kicks off its formal European Union exit talks Monday, almost a year after the country voted to leave the bloc, amid a backdrop of domestic political chaos, a weakening economy, a spate of deadly terrorist attacks and simmering social tensions following a fatal fire in a government-run housing project.

EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, right, and British Secretary of State David Davis make statements as they arrive at EU headquarters in Brussels.

The issue dominated a first meeting of European Union and UK Brexit negotiations yesterday, with both sides agreeing to handle the peace process, common travel area and Border separately to other issues in the talks.

Britain's Brexit minister David Davis said London wanted a deep and special relationship with the European Union after the divorce and that he would conduct the talks in a constructive tone.

That left it nearly 2.5 percent lower than an eight-month high hit in May on the view that Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative party would increase its majority in elections on June 8, giving Britain a strong position to negotiate with the European Union from.

Sidelined for months by his boss Theresa May, Britain's finance minister Philip Hammond has returned to the political frontline, criticising the prime minister over her recent election campaign and calling for pragmatism in Brexit talks that begin on Monday.

Earlier, Boris Johnson said the talks would lead to a happy outcome for both sides. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Other official at the table included Glynn Williams - director general at the Home Office, Mark Bowman - director general, global finance at HM Treasury, Simon Case - director general, UK-EU partnership team, Alex Ellis - director general at the Department for Exiting the European Union, Jane Walker - aide to David Davis and Christian Jones - press secretary to David Davis.

May was hoping to increase her support in the British election on June 8, but instead her party lost its outright majority and now has to try to form a workable government with a tiny party from Northern Ireland. According to what both sides revealed during their first press conference on Monday afternoon at the Berlaymont, the "four-week negotiating model" is expected to give pace to talks and achieve results faster.

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The concession on the sequencing of talks may have little effect on the final settlement - the United Kingdom wanted divorce talks in parallel with those on a trade deal - but it underlined Whitehall concerns that the government may have overestimated its leverage.

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"I look forward to beginning work on that new future today".

"The whole process will lead to a happy resolution that can be done with honour and profit to both sides", he said as he went into an European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, AFP reports.

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.

"In the first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues".

May has said she is open to some kind of association agreement with the customs union and wants to avoid any so-called "cliff-edge" into uncertain trading conditions, but she has also said Britain must be able to control immigration - something it can not do while a member of the EU.

Macron, a committed pro-EU leader and ally of Merkel, also easily won French legislative elections on Sunday, cementing his power base.

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