United Kingdom sees 'happy' Brexit outcome for both sides

Brexit negotiations are finally about to start – so what happens now

Mr Davis said there was more time spent on Ireland in Monday's talks than any other subject.

Davis and Barnier both admitted the Irish border question dominated the first negotiating session, but there did seem to be progress on the issue of European Union citizens' rights.

Meanwhile, Mr Barnier said he believed a "fair" deal was possible for both sides but he made clear the talks, beginning a year after the UK's Brexit referendum, would take place according to a timetable set by the EU. This will make it possible to begin the second phase of discussions, on the framework of future commercial relations between London and the European Union between "December 2017 and Spring 2018".

"The United Kingdom has chose to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around", Mr Barnier said. While "Brexiteers" like Davis have strongly backed May's proposed clean break with the single market and customs union, finance minister Philip Hammond and others have this month echoed calls by businesses for less of a "hard Brexit" and retaining closer customs ties.

Mr Davis told reporters earlier: "We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone".

Mr Barnier said that the objective of the talks was to deliver an "orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU".

Asked if he had given any ground to Britain, Mr Barnier said: "I am not in a frame of mind to make concessions, or ask for concessions". "There will be no hostility on my side".

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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.

European Union diplomats hope this first meeting and a summit in Brussels later this week, where May will be present but will not negotiate with European Union leaders, can improve the atmosphere after recent spiky comments from both sides. "And so bridging between Churchill and Monnet I am certainly a determined optimist", he said.

He added they were determined to deliver certainty to expats as soon as possible. The latter is the payment by the United Kingdom of all financial commitments already undertaken within the EU. We have taken the first, critical steps together. So, we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decisions.

Mr Barnier's insistence on sticking to the EU's priorities for the negotiations comes after Mr Davis appeared to soften his stance on the schedule for the talks.

Speaking at the start of the talks, Mr Davis said they were about building "a new deep and special relationship". Similarly, we will be leaving the customs union - that's the only way we can develop our free trade arrangements with the rest of the world'.

"Ultimately, if the Government is really out to get the best deal for Britain, they must be open to compromise on more than just the timetable of the talks, and start putting our economic prosperity at the heart of their negotiating strategy", he said.

Referring to the "difficult, even impossible situation" created by the indecisive election, he added: "here, those who created such chaos would have long since gone".

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