And so it begins: Brexit talks to focus 1st on orderly exit

Government did respond to fire safety recommendations UK minister says

Representatives for the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (EU) kicked off Brexit negotiations in Brussels on June 19, nearly 12 weeks after Britain's prime minister triggered the mechanism that would let it depart from the EU.

The two sides agreed to hold four further monthly rounds of talks, with the next on July 17, on the key issues of Britain's divorce from the bloc.

Those were, he said, the rights of expatriate citizens and problems of a new EU-UK border, notably cutting across Ireland. The general election earlier this month - called abruptly by Prime Minister Theresa May to bolster her majority and show a united Brexit face to Brussels - backfired spectacularly, and cost her Tories dearly.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been praised by business leaders and supporters of a "soft Brexit" for emphasising the need to put jobs and prosperity first when negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union.

"My mandate is to defend the single market, defend the European Union, which the United Kingdom has chose to leave", Barnier told reporters after briefing ministers from EU member states in Luxembourg.

The central bank chief, to the ire of some Brexiteers, has long argued that Britain should proceed on a smoother glide path out of the European Union by agreeing transitional rules for its banks and companies.

May's government said it was "confident it can achieve a bold and ambitious deal that will work in the interest of the whole U.K".

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With the par for the day being reduced to 69, she was five-under 64 for the round and Aditi had a 66, which was three-under. Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits her tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Kingsmill Championship.

He also confirmed that Britain would opt for a "hard Brexit" that involves quitting the EU's single market and customs union, rejecting suggestions that after a poor election performance by May the line might be softened.

The document released after the first day of discussion on "Terms of Reference for the Article 50 TEU negotiations" stated: "The following initial negotiating groups have been established: Citizens' rights; Financial Settlement; Other Separation issues".

The chancellor emphasized the importance of the UK's financial sector to the European Union and warned against any disruption to it.

Adding to the complexity is Britain's current political situation, as May lost her Conservative majority in parliament after a snap election, sparking wide criticism of her leadership and worries about how long May and her cabinet would stay in power. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said: "If we don't succeed, both sides will lose".

"It was clear from the opening that both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership".

Most of the attention will be paid to the negotiations on the future relationship with Ireland.

It also appears Mr Davis and Mr Michel Barnier may have to negotiate in the dark as staff have been told to switch off all the lights.

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