Brexit Minister: No Doubt Britain Leaving EU

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Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted past year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so.

Mark Carney made the direct link between "weaker real income growth" and the process of leaving the European Union.

But the situation is very different from 12 months ago when the Brexiteers were riding high, with Prime Minister Theresa May's entire approach called into question after a disastrous election performance on June 8.

The PM is preparing for the Queen's Speech on Wednesday and has not yet struck a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

A poll published over the weekend shows that a slim majority of Britons now want the chance to vote on the terms of Brexit when the talks are concluded. Yet Davis enters the talks representing a government in disarray.

The groups, which claim to represent hundreds of thousands of businesses across the United Kingdom employing millions of people, have also called for a "frictionless" open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Economic data is beginning to lend extra weight to the argument for a softer approach to Brexit.

The arch-federalist former Belgian PM, who this year published a book calling on EU states to forge "a more ideal Union", warned last week Britain could lose its rebate and opt-outs if it changes its mind and decides to stay.

He told journalists there was no change to the government's position, that Britain was leaving the single market but seeking a trade deal and a customs agreement.

"We will leave the customs union when we leave the European Union".

Days after a suggestion from French President Emmanuel Macron that Britain could still choose to remain, Davis said there would be no backtracking from Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to deliver on Brexit, for which Britons voted in a referendum nearly a year ago.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

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Monday's negotiations are to start in Brussels at 11 am (0900 GMT) with 90 minutes of talks between Barnier and Davis, followed by a working lunch between the pair, and a press conference. "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", centring on citizens living on each other's territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain stands to pay to get out of its previous European Union commitments, Barnier said.

Davis is to say on Monday that Britain wants "both sides to emerge strong and prosperous", according to a statement by the UK's department for exiting the EU.

The so-called Brexit bill is likely to be the biggest hurdle in the early negotiations.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "maybe there is now a chance to achieve a so-called "soft Brexit.'" But he said staying in the single market would require Britain to accept European Union workers" freedom of movement.

The Brexit Secretary gave a glimpse into the first day of talks, saying more time had been spent discussing Ireland than any other issue.

The EU says Britain must honour its contributions to the bloc's budget, which has already been agreed up to 2020, as well as commitments to development programmes for poorer member states.

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Britain gave official notification that it would leave the European Union at the end of March, meaning it will leave the bloc, which is its biggest trading partner, in March 2019.

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