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Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

20 June 2017

But the turmoil of the euro zone crisis, fears in Britain about immigration and a series of miscalculations by former Prime Minister David Cameron prompted Britain to vote by 52 to 48 percent for Brexit in a June 23 referendum past year.

May's Conservatives need the support of the Protestant DUP's 10 lawmakers to have a majority in parliament, and some have called for the government to take a cross-party approach to Brexit given May's weakened position following the election.

Instead there is still disarray at Westminster as talks between the Conservative Party and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party continue in order to form a minority Government. "If there is going to be a deal, it makes it more likely to be softer than before the election, but on the other hand the probability of no deal at all has increased".

A year after its historic vote, Britain on Monday finally opened negotiations with the other 27 European Union nations about leaving the bloc, with the final outcome, due in 2019, as globally important as it now seems unpredictable.

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The negotiations kick off in Brussels on Monday with Britain under pressure for stalling the talks and entering the negotiations without a working parliamentary majority fully in place.

The letter, which is also signed by the manufacturers' group EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors, also presses for an early deal guaranteeing the rights of European Union citizens living and working in Britain.

While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.

Britain believed its negotiating arm was strengthened at that time by anti-EU sentiment in other member countries.

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Once agreement has been made in this phase of the talks, the second phase discussing the future trade relationship can begin.

Brussels first mentioned a figure of 60 billion euros (53 billion pounds, $67 billion) but it is now closer to 100 billion, European Union sources told AFP.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly insisted the British Government is prepared to walk away from the talks, claiming no deal is better than a bad deal.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will meet with the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow morning. Despite signals from both France and Germany last week that Britain would still be welcome to stay if it changed its mind, Brexit minister David Davis insisted on Sunday there would be no turning back. If so, it could have to be ratified by up to 38 national and regional parliaments, with any of them effectively holding a veto.

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Davis's agreement to Monday's agenda led some European Union officials to believe that May's government may at last coming around to Brussels' view of how negotiations should be run. The Westminster vote will take place before the European Parliament debates and votes on the deal, effectively giving MEPs the final say on whether it will go ahead. The departure date can only be extended by agreement between all member states.