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Brexit negotiations to start on Monday, June 19th – EU, UK confirm

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.Brexit talks will begin Monday.The announcement followed speculation that talks may have to be delayed because of the inconclusive outcome of last week’s general election, which has already forced the state opening of parliament to be put back from June 19th to 21th.European Union officials suggested the apparent climbdown could buy May’s unstable government breathing space to actually decide what kind of future relationship it wants.The first issue at the Brussels talks will be the status of millions of European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and British residents of the other 27 countries, including their right to stay, to work, and to access medical care.Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say Britain will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.Brussels insists that those living in Britain now should be able to keep those rights after Brexit. The party has refused to give a time frame for reaching a deal, though May is due in Brussels for an European Union summit on June 22-23 when she will want to show she has a solid grip on power.The sensitive issue has been thrown into further doubt by May’s efforts to seek a deal with Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party to stay in power after the British election.Addressing her party on Monday after one of its most memorable electoral failures, May said she would take a broader, more consultative approach to the Brexit talks.What that future relationship will look like remains anyone’s guess.”As a matter of fact in this case it’s not for me to say whether or not this decision should be questioned – the decision to leave the European Union – but until the negotiations come to an end, of course there is always the possibility to reopen the door”.Many in Britain have seen the election result as repudiating May’s threats to walk away without a deal.But EU officials are sceptical that May’s position has changed, just as they are doubtful about the feasibility of either option. They also have a strong incentive to deny the United Kingdom a deal so attractive it might encourage others to follow the British example.