Minister for Brexit David Davis has entered discussions with European Union counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels, with an aim of establishing priorities for preliminary negotiations and to agree a timetable for the months ahead. "To that end, we are starting this negotiation in a positive, constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves and our European allies and friends for the future".
U.K. Brexit secretary David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet with the E.U.'s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted a year ago to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation to do so.
"If you ask me are we going to make concessions, I must tell you that it is the United Kingdom that is leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and not the other way around", the former European commissioner and French foreign minister told a joint press conference with Davis.
May's government said it was "confident it can achieve a bold and ambitious deal that will work in the interest of the whole U.K".
The Irish Border is one of the EU's top three priorities in the first phase of talks, along with citizens' rights and the UK's financial settlement.
Only when "sufficient, concrete progress" on the first phase has been made will Mr Barnier recommend to the European Council that the negotiations can enter the next stage, taking in the future trading relationship, with that recommendation possibly coming at October's summit of EU leaders.
But the situation is very different from 12 months ago when the Brexiteers were riding high, with Prime Minister Theresa May's entire approach being called into question after a disastrous election performance on 8 June.
He said there was a "very sensitive political context" given the looming deadline for forming a Northern Ireland Executive, the fact that a new Government is only recently in place in Dublin and the "ongoing political discussions" in London.
He also confirmed that Britain would opt for a "hard Brexit" that involves quitting the EU's single market and customs union, rejecting suggestions that after a poor election performance by May the line might be softened. While denying they want to punish their neighbor, European Union officials have warned Britain off trying to "cherry pick" the benefits of membership and said it will be left worse off outside the bloc than inside.
She added: "I hope that we will reach a good agreement". He said he views the talks with "informed optimism".
In a major defeat, Brexit Secretary David Davis was forced to drop his central demand for the two strands of the negotiations to be staged in parallel, within hours of arriving in Brussels. The British government wants the negotiations to include the future relationship with Europe and an all-important trade deal with the bloc. Some of her ministers want to refashion her strategy toward protecting trade with Britain's biggest market rather than continue to aim for her original goal of winning control of immigration and law-making.
Gabriel, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, strongly criticised the Conservative party, saying that they "played with the emotions of citizens in Britain, told fake news about Europe and left people unclear about what consequences this would all have".
May herself will also have a chance to update the other 27 European Union leaders on her Brexit plans at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.