Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday

Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the Government's priority in the negotiations should be to protect jobs, economic growth and prosperity. The talks must be completed and endorsed by parliaments by the end of March 2019. Two former Conservative prime ministers have also urged May to soften her approach. Foster said talks with May would continue into next week.

May has said the divorce talks, likely to be the most complex in Europe since World War II, will begin as planned next week and her Brexit minister, David Davis, said Britain's negotiating position was unchanged.

"As you know the Queen's Speech has been now set for next Wednesday".

"There is a unity of objective among people in the United Kingdom", May said following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

The first round of formal negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will begin on June 19, it has been confirmed.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a Bloomberg Television interview this week that as soon as "the principles" of Brexit are agreed, talks can move on in parallel to "the details of the regulation, and what will be the further relations between the United Kingdom, after Brexit, and the single market and the European Union, and so on".

HSBC, which has 43,000 employees in Britain, said in January that it was planning to move "activities covered specifically by European financial regulation" to the EU, which would shift about 1,000 jobs out of the UK. "The reality is that where we stand follows logically from leaving, so, if we're leaving, what we need to do is do it smoothly and successfully and gain economic benefit".

Hammond, speaking to reporters before a meeting of the 28 European Union finance ministers on Friday, said Britain should work closely with the bloc to prioritise jobs and prosperity when Brexit talks start next week.

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, struck a harsher tone: Britain, he said, could change its mind, but it would be poorer.

He said he believed there was a majority in the Commons for such an approach.

The Daily Telegraph, quoting senior government sources, said Hammond wanted to pursue a deal under which Britain would become an associate member of the EU's customs union but would also have the freedom to negotiate separate trade agreements with other countries for its huge services industries.

Yet many of her lawmakers and party members favor a sharp break with the European Union - a sign of the divisions over Europe that helped sink the premierships of May's predecessors Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Cameron.

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