Be fair in Brexit talks, European Union tells UK

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"As I have already said, in essence it is about damage control".

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said Mrs May had been "taken to Tusk", as the guidelines showed "the strength of the EU in these negotiations and the carelessness of the UK Government in isolating themselves from our European allies".

First negotiate the terms of Britain's departure then negotiate Britain's new deal with the European Union (which has to be carried out under the terms of another treaty article - 218 (3) - which covers negotiations between the European Union and "third countries", that is countries that are not members of the EU).

One of the first clashes in early negotiations was over the timing of talks: Britain wanted to discuss the terms of exit in parallel with a conversation on the shape of the future U.K. -EU economic and security relationship.

European Union negotiators have indicated that Britain will need to pay around £50bn to cover its outstanding obligations to the bloc.

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"We will continue to play our part in ensuring that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world", she writes in the "Irish Times", a day after formally launching the process of the UK's exit from the EU.

The minister also said that there will be no "British rebate" when it comes to defending the European Union's interests in the upcoming divorce negotiations with London. She has been accused of blackmail over a trade deal.

The step comes a day after the United Kingdom government formally served divorce papers on the European Union by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - beginning a legal process that must end in two years' time with Britain leaving the EU.

He said: "The EU27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach".

"The European Council (EU leaders) will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase" on a future relationship, the draft guidelines say.

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A Government spokesman said: "It is clear both sides wish to approach these talks constructively, and as the Prime Minister said this week, wish to ensure a deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union".

Tusk said that the European Union will not seek to punish Britain in the initial stages of the talks.

The guidelines also say the issue of citizens living in each other's countries is a priority, and call for "flexible and imaginative solutions" for the issue of the U.K.'s land border with Ireland.

'We know how valuable this partnership and enduring friendship between our two countries are, ' she said, in comments translated from German.

Britons voted by 52-48 percent in favour of Brexit in the June 2016 referendum.

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