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And so it begins: Brexit talks to focus 1st on orderly exit

Britain appears to have given in on the EU’s insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.The former Welsh Secretary was brought back into government by Theresa May after she became leader last June.The start of Brexit negotiations in Brussels underline the urgent need to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland, Ireland’s new foreign minister has said.Five major United Kingdom business bodies have come together to call for continued access to the European single market until a final Brexit deal is made with the EU.In his Sunday Times article, David Jones, warns against that approach.The most senior officials on either side will lead work on efforts to resolve the problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a situation Mr Barnier acknowledged is politically sensitive at a time when the Tories are seeking the support of the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up Mrs May’s minority government.U.K. Brexit secretary David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet with the E.U.’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.The EU wants to deal with the first phase of divorce talks before moving on next year to discuss trade, though EU officials acknowledge that the agreements to be reached before Britain leaves can only be concluded as a whole package simultaneously.The negotiations have been called the most complex in Britain’s history as it unravels 44 years of membership and its threat to walk out with no deal in place has anxious European capitals.”The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust“, rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, a European source said.The smiles belied the fact that at stake is not just Britain’s future but also Europe’s postwar political order and its place in the world, which could be fatally undermined without an agreement by the March 2019 deadline.A former principal private secretary to Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the career civil servant was later deputy national security adviser before being appointed permanent secretary of Mr Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union in July 2016.They will first have to unravel the British from the European Union, which will be challenging to say the least.Britain has already made concessions by agreeing to the European Union proposals to sequence the talks, by postponing trade discussions until broad agreement is reached on a cash “divorce settlement”, the Northern Ireland border and the rights of European Union citizens in the UK.The arch-federalist former Belgian PM, who this year published a book calling on EU states to forge “a more flawless Union”, warned last week Britain could lose its rebate and opt-outs if it changes its mind and decides to stay.Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, will be perhaps the most important single figure on the other side of the table in the two-year talks that will decide the nature of the deal we strike.”I hope that today we can identify priorities and a timetable to allow me to report to (EU leaders) later this week (that) we had a constructive opening of negotiations”.”I look forward to beginning work on that new future today”. 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.The Liberal Democrats, the fourth-biggest group in the British parliament, urged May to form a cross-party committee to negotiate Brexit.Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “The UK economy has proved hardy in recent times, with firms up and down the UK getting on with what they do best by investing and creating jobs”.