A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started


A member of protocol changes the EU and British flags prior to the arrival of EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier and British Secretary of State David Davis at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, June 19, 2017.

Britain and the European Union have finally began formal Brexit negotiations, vowing overnight to work constructively for a deal despite disarray in London over whether to go for a "hard" or "soft" divorce.

The Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz added: "One can not prolong indefinitely the state we're in; Brexit must be dealt with".

They said discussions would be split into three stages: citizen rights, the single financial settlement and other separation issues.

Barnier had said on Twitter that he spent the weekend before the opening of what promises to be almost two years of uphill negotiations trekking in his beloved Alps.

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While the European Union negotiating team led by Barnier has been ready for months, British efforts on Brexit stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

"My clear view - and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain - is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter into negotiations", he said.

As Labour has said for months, leaving the European Union without a deal is the worst possible option: it would be disastrous for our economy, for jobs, for our security and for our ability to engage in a whole range of everyday transactions with the EU.

But he said at the start of the press conference afterwards that as soon as he walked into the building, he was reminded of one of the Christmas film's more famous scenes. This must be taken into account, according to Asselborn.

"We spoke about the very important need for both governments to be impartial actors when it comes to Northern Ireland and that we are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and that any agreement that may exist between the Conservatives and the DUP should not in any way impact on the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

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An increasingly concerned European Union has been pushing London to hurry up, with time running out for a deal and three months already gone since May triggered the two-year Article 50 European Union exit process.

"So it's the same as it was before".

And one in five businesses said that they would target future growth outside Britain or even relocate as a result of the Brexit vote. It's not about punishment, it is not about revenge.

"I'm not in a frame of mind to make concessions", Barnier told reporters at the end of the first day of talks in Brussels. Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other European Union countries into Britain. So, we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decisions. "The consequences are substantial".

May, bruised by an election this month that cost her Conservatives their parliamentary majority, will make her case for a quick agreement on residency for EU nationals and employment rights at a summit of European leaders in the Belgian capital later this week.

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Mr Davis and Mr Barnier will now meet every four weeks over the coming months, bringing their teams together for a matter of days each time.