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Britain to Hold Rare Two-Year Parliament Session Over Brexit

19 June 2017

Mr Davis is expected to meet Mr Barnier at the Commission's headquarters in Belgian capital Brussels on Monday but it is not known how long the initial round of talks will last.

He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership in the single market and said Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government will negotiate in a "pragmatic" manner, striving for a solution that works for both sides.

Fighting for her political survival, May has been trying to strike a deal with a small Northern Irish Protestant party to avoid a second election that could delay Brexit talks and damage the $2.5 trillion economy.

Barnier and British Brexit Secretary David Davis will open the talks on Monday at 11 a.m.in Brussels with the aim of wrapping up a deal by the end of 2018 so that it can be ratified by the European and British parliaments before the United Kingdom leaves the bloc in March 2019.

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"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.

The Commission said the high-priority issue of the shared border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland, an European Union member, will also be discussed.

Mrs May's weakened position in the House of Commons as a result of losing her majority has fuelled speculation the Tories would be forced to soften their stance on Brexit.

Britain's Brexit ministry said on Friday that no deal could be struck on exiting unless the future relationship with the bloc was taken into account."Our view is that a withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other", a spokesman for Britain's Brexit ministry said."We believe that the withdrawal process cannot be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

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A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: "We have been crystal clear about our approach to these negotiations". "We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens".

More pressing is the issues of providing effective guarantees to some 5 million people — around 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain plus nearly 2 million Britons in Europe — who want to know what the future holds after Brexit.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government's priority in the negotiations should be to protect jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

"As we enter negotiations next week we will do so in a spirit of honest cooperation, taking a pragmatic approach, trying to find a solution that works" for Britain and the European Union, he said.

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Britain to Hold Rare Two-Year Parliament Session Over Brexit