EU's Barnier looks forward to 'constructive' Brexit talks

The Prime Minister's legacy will be defined by whether she makes good on her promise to make a success of Brexit. "But the 27 of us will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully, together", Merkel said.

Brexit Minister David Davis will this morning meet with chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels for the first day of what he described as "historic" talks that will set Britain on the road to leaving the EU.

Mr. Davis added: "Now the hard work begins".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes for a "good agreement" after Brexit talks in which 27 European Union countries will listen carefully to what Britain wants but also defend their own interests. It was a clear rebuff to May's stated ambition of wrapping up a new free trade agreement quickly.

The EU wants its citizens to retain all of the rights they now enjoy, and would extend the same offer to British citizens living in other member states. "A deal like no other in history".

Hammond added however that a deal created to punish the United Kingdom would be unacceptable. May now has barely enough to last a few months.

"But it's not very strong and stable".

When one interviewer asked if he had been locked in a cupboard during the campaign by May's aides, he said with a smirk: "Not quite in a cupboard".

Gabriel said "it would naturally be best if Britain didn't leave at all".

The government on Saturday said parliament would hold a special two-year session starting this week, sitting for double the normal time to allow it to overhaul European Union legislation.

Amid such upheaval, though, there is little agreement on what kind of Brexit May should try for - even assuming she can hold onto her job.

"There is more that unites us than divides us", Davis said, referring to the latest reported terror attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal.

Opponents describe that as a "hard Brexit".

Echoing public opinion, five prominent industry groups called for continued Single Market access on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

The talks - which have started nearly exactly a year after the 23 June referendum - mark a significant moment in Britain's complex task of leaving the bloc after more than 40 years of integration. A study from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, published today, has found that one in four firms say they would be damaged by a potential requirement for European Union nationals to have a job offer before they come to the UK.

"Everything is all over the place", said a senior executive responsible for Brexit preparations at a FTSE 100 company.

Three key issues will dominate the first phase of the talks.

The extent of Britain's exit bill needs to be decided, with the EU27 expected to seek tens of billions of euros they see as London's fair share of programmes to which it has committed.

With discontent in europhile Scotland and troubled Northern Ireland, which faces a new European Union border across the divided island, Brexit poses new threats to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

May had promised to take Britain completely out of the bloc's common trading area and slash the number of people coming from the EU.