German minister sees hope of 'soft' Brexit

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Prime Minister Theresa May has been struggling to put together a working government since the Conservative Party lost its majority in the June 8 election.

Brexit minister David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, to kick off hugely complex withdrawal negotiations that are expected to last less than two years.

Britain seems to have tacitly accepted the EU's plan for sequenced talks, which will focus first on the terms of Britain's withdrawal, with negotiations on a future relationship and trade deal coming later.

This will include helping the Government to establish its position for future relations with Europe and outside of the EU.

"In my experience recently, businesses that look over the garden fence have gone: "Hmm, (the) grass is not quite as dark and unforgiving as you might expect", Andrew told the BBC.

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Working groups were to take place later to focus on three key areas - the status of European Union citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the European Union; the divorce bill for Britain; and the status of the Northern Irish border with Ireland.

Mr Davies has said he is entering negotiations on the UK's exit from the European Union in a "positive and constructive" frame of mind.

The storm clouds began to gather in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, when investors quickly sent the pound to its lowest level in decades over fears that Britain would lose preferential access to Europe's vast markets. He did not mention a third European Union priority - that Britain settle a bill of tens of billions of euros before it leaves in 21 months.

But the true figure could be far lower, as the 100 billion does not account for tens of billions that Britain is set to get back in shared assets and rebates.

Mr Varadkar said: "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".

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Brussels insists that those living in Britain now should be able to keep those rights after Brexit.

It is expected talks will take place once a month in Brussels as they work through the issues to be resolved.

Mrs May stressed the importance of Brexit negotiations as she was quizzed about ongoing pressure over her leadership following a disastrous election and criticism of her response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

"Many people are afraid that what is presented as a very generous offer will not be seen as very generous, which could really contribute to a negative atmosphere", a European source said.

Northern Ireland does not want a Brexit that puts customs posts on its border with the Irish Republic, an European Union member.

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Indeed, when it is taken into account that, in addition to the enormous bill which is looming, the United Kingdom electorate has never been asked to give a specific view on other vital issues, including the future of the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of European Court of Justice, a powerful case can be made for a second referendum on the validity of any final agreement. For the officials sitting down on Monday, at least on the European Union side, a major worry is Britain crashing out into a limbo, with no deal.

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