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Brexit Secretary David Davis targeting a 'deal like no other in history'

19 June 2017

Britain starts formal talks to leave the European Union onMonday, seeking a deal "like no other in history" despite entering fiendishly hard negotiations with a badly weakened government.

Johnson called on people to look at the more distant future.

May herself will also have a chance to update the other 27 European Union leaders on her Brexit plans at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. But the government will double the length of the session to let lawmakers debate Britain's approach to Brexit without interruption.

Britain's June 8 general election is still casting a long shadow over the entire Brexit process, and although Mr Davis insisted the government was ready for the scheduled talks, the United Kingdom has yet to explain its end goal, or its plan to achieve it. Officials in Brussels fear that their negotiations could be in vain if the objectives are eventually overturned, or if the government's under-staffed Brexit Department is unable to process the negotiating demands.

While EU officials assume that Britain still wants to leave the EU completely, in line with the plan Mrs May's outlined in January, there are other options being planned.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is newly influential after winning a crucial 13 seats in Scotland, has said Britain should prioritise "freedom to trade and our economic growth".

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"We will leave the customs union when we leave the European Union".

"The fact they are coming and that they agree to talk about the subjects that we set out, shows that the clash is under control", a senior European official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.

"We are not turning our backs on Europe", he said in the statement.

Subjects for the negotiations, which officially start in Brussels later, include the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border.

The "hardball" European Commission chief negotiator will be across the table from Mr Davis and has already been established as a something of a villain for Brexiteers.

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Mrs May had sought to negotiate a future trade deal alongside the departure terms, but Mr Barnier insisted that the talks follow a clear sequence, dealing with the exit arrangements first.

The negotiations have been called the most complex in Britain's history as it unravels 44 years of membership and its threat to walk out with no deal in place has anxious European capitals.

At stake in hugely complex talks that are expected to conclude by March 2019 is not just Britain's future but a western political order that would be badly shaken by a failure to reach a deal.

The chancellor said he would reject any deal "designed to destroy us".

A parliamentary session usually runs for a year, from spring to spring.

Britain and the European Union begin tough Brexit talks on Monday, trying to complete one of the most complex negotiations in history in less than two years.

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