Britain's Philip Hammond says growth and jobs Brexit priority

David Davis says replacing Theresa May 'would be height of self-indulgence'

But her vulnerability at home means that her plan to leave the EU's lucrative single market and customs union in order to impose strict limits on immigration is under intense scrutiny.

Arriving to a meeting with his counterparts in the 28-country EU, Hammond said his "clear view" is "we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward".

Britain's Brexit ministry said on Friday that no deal could be struck on exiting unless the future relationship with the bloc was taken into account.

The Brexit discussions are due to begin on Monday when the British minister in charge of the process, David Davis, meets the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels.

But Mr Davis insisted the United Kingdom still wants to negotiate its future trade relationship with the European Union "alongside" talks on the terms for Brexit, which he said was the process set out in Article 50 of the European Union treaties.

There was speculation that chaos in Britain, caused by last week's shock general election outcome, would lead to Brexit negotiations being delayed.

While she is ultimately expected to reach a deal, a source in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) told Reuters that an agreement to support her minority government was not likely before next week.

"We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens", he said.

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On Monday, the European Commission insisted it was "fully prepared and ready for the negotiations to start" the process.

Brexit Secretary David Davis and the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier agreed during discussions in Brussels on Thursday to start formal talks over the UK's departure on 19 June.

Working groups were to take place later to focus on three key areas - the status of European Union citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the European Union; the divorce bill for Britain; and the status of the Northern Irish border with Ireland. As the European Union has itself said, "nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed".

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: The Conservatives can not go from weak and wobbly to business as usual in three days.

"Depending on a hard or soft Brexit, that number might be slightly less than that, so it's going to be updated all the time", its United Kingdom chief executive Ian Stuart told BBC television.

An EU official close to the matter said the "softer Brexit" talk could be "productive" and help progress in the first months, where the British attitude to discussing the financial settlement "will be the first serious test of the negotiations".

"In my experience recently, businesses that look over the garden fence have gone: "Hmm, (the) grass is not quite as dark and unforgiving as you might expect", Andrew told the BBC.

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