Britain-EU Brexit talks to start Monday as planned

Tony Baggett

"I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of how we propose to take that discussion forward", he said.

Also on the programme, a leading member of the Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland said he he did not necessarily believe there would be any concessions to the DUP to encourage them to support the government.

Talks are continuing between the DUP and Conservatives on the details of a deal, which could see the Northern Irish party supporting the Tories on the Queen's Speech and the Budget, but deciding on other issues on a vote-by-vote basis.

The prime minister met leaders of Northern Ireland' other political parties yesterday, some of whom had voiced concerns that a tie-up could destabilise local politics and undermine the British government's neutrality in overseeing separate talks to form a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

The London fire, which claimed at least 17 lives, forced the cancellation of the City of London's Mansion House dinner, where the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, had the chance to revive calls for a more business-friendly exit from the EU. Hundreds of protesters chanting "we want justice" stormed a local town hall on Friday afternoon. "I'll be interested to learn from her to what extent, if at all, British policy has changed and to relay to her once again the particular concerns that we have in Ireland about the impact on the border, trade and freedom of citizens to move freely between our two islands as we have done for centuries".

That the British were ready to break negotiations down on the lines of priorities identified by Brussels implied, he said, a willingness to start a first phase of divorce talks before moving on next year to a second phase on the new free trade relationship May wants - a "sequencing" London has disputed.

The DUP is one of the most socially conservative parties in Europe, having sought to maintain some of its strictest limits on abortion and consistently opposed gay marriage.


But the Government will press ahead with the first round of Brexit talks two days before the official opening of Parliament.

The first round of formal negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will begin on June 19, it has been confirmed.

With Prime Minister Theresa May still working to shore up a deal with a small Northern Irish party to prop up her Conservative government after she lost her parliamentary majority in the June 8 election, Hammond's comments could be a sign that London is easing back its approach to Brexit. "Not immediately", she said, with a smile.

"We should be protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity", Hammond said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Luxembourg.

"My clear view and I believe the view of the majority of people in Great Britain is we should be protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity", Chancellor of the Exchequer Hammond said as he arrived for regular talks with his European Union counterparts in Luxembourg. "But the withdrawal and future are intimately linked".

Mr Hammond's remarks will be seen as a bid to soften the terms of Britain's exit, 72 hours before formal talks begin on Monday.

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