Britain eyes Brexit deal 'like no other in history'

A beaming Brexit Secretary David Davis, a veteran campaigner against European Union membership, told a sombre Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, that his team aimed to maintain a "positive and constructive tone" during "challenging" talks ahead in the hope of reaching a deal that was in the interests of both sides.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted previous year to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.

The letter from the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, EEF, Federation of Small Businesses, and Institute of Directors, calls on the government to accept continued membership of the Single Market and Customs union until any new trade deal is signed and implemented - a process that trade experts suggest could take up to a decade. Instead, she has been left clinging to power, which could impact the negotiations.

The comments came as a poll revealed that Labour voters overwhelmingly support the softest possible Brexit deal. The plans for the next 2 years of government are due to be presented to the United Kingdom parliament in the Queen's speech on Wednesday and this should make the Government's position clearer, following the recent speculation of a softening in the approach.

Adding to what Queen Elizabeth II called the "sombre national mood" have been three terrorist attacks in three months and a fire in a London tower block in which 58 people are presumed dead. But the government will double the length of the session to let lawmakers debate Britain's approach to Brexit without interruption.

But the business community and many lawmakers want to retain closer ties with Europe, and they are heaping pressure on the prime minister to change her approach.

He said once there was sufficient progress on those, the talks would start looking at the EU's new relationship with Britain.

Finance minister Philip Hammond confirmed yesterday that it was still the plan to quit not only the EU but the customs union and single market as well. "That's a statement of legal fact", he told BBC television.

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

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Talks with the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier will focus on the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border.

Time is pressing. After the June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the bloc, the other 27 nations wanted to start the exit talks as soon as possible so they could work on their own future but Britain long seemed dazed by its own momentous move.

Britain is due to leave the European Union at midnight Brussels time (11pm in the UK) on March 29 2019 - unless an extension is agreed by all 27 remaining member states. - with or without an agreement.

As the political landscape has proven to be so unpredictable over the a year ago or more, no-one is confidently predicting the outcomes of the Brexit talks, however, especially due to their complexity.

Sensing a chance to reassert their calls for a deal that does not create major obstacles for exporting to the European Union or hiring workers from the bloc, the CBI and other business groups sent a joint letter to May to urge her to put Britain's economy first in divorce talks with the EU.

"No deal would be very, very bad outcome for Britain", Hammond said Sunday.

The chancellor said he would reject any deal "designed to destroy us".

Barnier has said a divorce deal should be ready by October next year to give time for parliamentary approval. "That is why we are pushing ahead with negotiations on Monday".

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