UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

May's finance minister, Philip Hammond, said on Friday that Britain should prioritize protecting jobs and economic growth.

A DExEU spokesman said: "As we set out in the Article 50 letter, our view is that withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other".

Brexit talks in Brussels on Monday will focus on the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border, rather than on future trade relations with the European Union, it has been confirmed.

The EU's executive Commission said in a statement Friday that the first round of negotiations in Brussels will be part of a "sequenced approach to the talks".

The head of the biggest group in the European Parliament says that what Britain wants out of the Brexit talks is a mystery as negotiations get underway. "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", centering on citizens living on each other's territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain stands to pay to get out of its previous European Union commitments, Barnier said.

In an interview in Singapore with the BBC, Prince Andrew said firms needed to look for "fresh grass" in other markets.

"Today we agreed on dates, we agreed on organization and we agreed on priorities for negotiations", Barnier told a joint press conference with British counterpart David Davis.

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Britain and the European Union are already at odds over the order of the talks, with London insisting future trade ties should be discussed at the same time as the divorce despite opposition from Brussels.

But some aspects of this might prove controversial with the British government and public, including the idea that EU citizens should retain their right to have a non-EU spouse join them in Britain, and the demand that the EU courts should oversee the rights of EU citizens in Britain. "It's much more important to get the negotiations off to a good start and get rattling through them than getting stuck on a debate about money", he said, adding that time pressure also heightened the need for transitional arrangements.

The agenda for the opening day of talks begins at 11 a.m. with an introductory session involving Barnier, the UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis and officials.

Those issues are Britain's exit bill, estimated by Brussels at around 100 billion euros (USD 112 billion), the rights of three million European Union nationals living in Britain and one million Britons on the continent, and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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

The EU has insisted that this sequence involve sorting out Britain's departure and urgent issues like the rights of citizens affected by Brexit before the shape of future ties or trade are discussed. "That will be in our mutual interest, but we 27 will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully together". Both sides must now agree the terms on which the United Kingdom leaves, and eventually also settle the shape of any future trading relationship.

But she now faces growing opposition at home to this, and her threats to walk away without a deal, in the wake of this month's general election in which she lost her centre-right Conservative party's parliamentary majority.

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