Round 1: Brexit talks start in Brussels with 20 months to go

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Barnier said on Monday that the talks, which run to Thursday, would "delve into the heart of the matter".

Davis added that apart from citizens' rights and the UK's exit bill, Northern Ireland issues are also a priority of these talks.

"The hard work starts now", European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday, again sounding a note of alarm that London has yet to provide detailed proposals on a range of key issues, with barely a year left for bargaining.

'We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress'.

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Davis wants to focus on the rights of European Union nationals, an issue made perhaps somewhat muddier by fresh studies suggesting voters would be happy with a trade-off in which opposition to free movement is eased in return for ensuring access to the single market.

Fox also said it would be "foolish" to go into the Brexit negotiations without being prepared to walk away, saying Britain's negotiating partners needed to believe Britain would do so rather than accept a bad deal.

Brexit hardliners in the Cabinet and on the Tory backbenches are furious with Mr Hammond for championing a two-year transition deal to cushion the impact of leaving the EU.

Her Brexit minister, veteran anti-EU campaigner David Davis, will meet Barnier, a French former cabinet minister, at the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters at 9:15 a.m. (0715 GMT) on Monday for a brief public handshake before formal business begins.

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Discussions on the politically charged issue of the Irish border issue will be led by Sabine Weyand, Barnier's deputy, and Olly Robbins, permanent secretary of the department for exiting the EU.

The proposal to grant EU nationals "settled status", effectively indefinite leave to remain, was immediately dismissed by European Council President Donald Tusk as "below our expectations".

After a June snap election in which May's Conservatives lost their majority, her cabinet appears bitterly divided over the type of outcome it wants from the Brexit talks.

He is expected to say: "This week we'll be getting into the real substance. the rights of all our citizens is the priority".

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson then fanned the flames when he said in the Commons that Brussels could "go whistle" if it expected the United Kingdom to pay a hefty "divorce bill" in respect of its outstanding financial obligations.

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