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Britain’s Hammond to push for United Kingdom to stay in EU customs union

There had been speculation that talks may be delayed due to the result of last week’s General Election which resulted in a hung parliament.Philip Hammond, Britain’s finance minister, says protecting the British economy should be the main goal of upcoming negotiations over the country’s exit from the European Union.He wouldn’t be drawn on whether he supported Britain’s continued membership in the single market and said May’s minority government will negotiate in a “pragmatic” manner, striving for a solution that works for both sides.Since her gamble on a snap election failed a week ago, May has come under pressure from some in her own party to change her approach to Brexit talks.Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: “The Conservatives can not go from weak and wobbly to business as usual in three days”.Barnier’s mandate, issued by European Union governments, now includes negotiating the EU’s priorities for an exit deal only, so his room for maneuver is limited. “It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union”.There was no immediate response from Mr Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union on whether this meant the United Kingdom has given up on its hopes for parallel talks to take place simultaneously on withdrawal and trade.Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called for a cross-party committee to be set up to handle the Brexit negotiations.More pressing is the issues of providing effective guarantees to some 5 million people _ around 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain plus nearly 2 million Britons in Europe _ who want to know what the future holds after Brexit.While Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap election initially frustrated European Union officials, the aim for a clear mandate to negotiate Brexit was appreciated.The chancellor said Theresa May had set out her desired outcome in her Lancaster House speech in January.The Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has made clear that he wants to agree on divorce terms before moving on to discussing the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc at a later stage in the negotiations.”The door of course is still open as long as Brexit negotiations have not been concluded”, he said.