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"Time to get to work": Brexit negotiators start first round

17 July 2017

At that point, Barnier hopes to be able to show "significant progress" on the divorce priorities for European Union leaders to give him a mandate to launch negotiations on a future free trade agreement.

"I pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn's temperament in the campaign, to the campaign's mobilisation of younger voters, and to the enthusiasm it generated", he said.

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has now conceded it is possible Jeremy Corbyn could lead the party to victory and become Britain's next leader. A majority oppose hard Brexit.

The Brexit Secretary will hold fresh talks with the European Commission's chief negotiator on Monday, just a day after the Cabinet's deep policy split was revealed by the Chancellor.

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Their teams will spend most of the next four days in smaller working groups, trying to identify areas of accord and discord on a set of issues agreed on during an initial day of talks on June 19.

Issues relating to Northern Ireland will also be addressed, with Mr Davis and Mr Barnier expected to give an update on the progress made in a press conference on Thursday.

The EU has demonstrated increasing confidence in recent weeks, accusing Britain of dithering over whether it wants a "hard" or "soft" Brexit more than a year after the shock referendum that propelled May to power. Doing this would also go a long way to placating the large numbers of young, professional voters, who, already depressed by the referendum result, recoiled at a Conservative Party which seemed to be marching headlong towards a brutal rupture of our relations with the European Union, and saying "To hell with the consequences".

But, like non-EU immigrants now, they would lose the right to vote in local elections in Britain and would be subject to minimum salary requirements to be able to bring family members into the country. Europe has some new leaders, including France's centrist President Emmanuel Macron. But British diplomats will try to exploit divergent interests among the 27, using Britain's hefty economic clout. However, he felt that the country at the moment needs less followership and more leadership.

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Companies reporting that Brexit had negatively influenced their investment decisions cited general uncertainty over the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Britain's "divorce bill" is estimated at about €60 billion although some commentators have suggested it could be as large as €100 billion.

Mr Blair said: "What I don't buy is two things: first of all I think a lot of people voted Labour not because they thought he was about to be Prime Minister and Labour was about to win, but because they were horrified at the Tory campaign and they wanted to put the brakes on it".

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