Davis and Barnier kick off talks on 'substance' of Brexit

Davis and Barnier kick off talks on 'substance' of Brexit

Davis and Barnier kick off talks on 'substance' of Brexit

"Now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation", Davis told reporters as Barnier welcomed him to the headquarters of the European Commission.

But as the talks get under way, it is reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond is being accused of Brexit treachery and trying to frustrate the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

In Brussels, Mr Davis is expected to insist the government is now ready to "get down to business", after European Union warnings that "the clock is ticking" on Britain.

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Trade minister Liam Fox, who favours a cleaner break with the EU, said on Sunday he could live with a transition - during which it is likely Britain would keep paying a share of the EU budget and follow EU rules - as long as it was kept short.

Twice in as many days, newspapers ran hostile stories about Hammond from last week's cabinet meeting, leaked by other ministers at the table.

Davis wants to focus on the rights of European Union nationals, an issue made perhaps somewhat muddier by fresh studies suggesting voters would be happy with a trade-off in which opposition to free movement is eased in return for ensuring access to the single market.

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The UK has come up with positions on the citizens' rights, membership of Euratom (the European nuclear agreement), the role of the European Court of Justice and privileges of EU institutions and agencies. Mr Hammond all but admitted a report he had told the cabinet that public-sector workers are "overpaid" was true - while denying he had said "even a woman" can drive a train. The EU has said it will only allow talks on a future relationship once there's "sufficient progress" on citizens' rights and the U.K.'s financial obligations. "Over the last few weeks, I've tried to advance ensuring that we achieve a Brexit that is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising standards in the future".

Asked why colleagues are "going for you", he pointed to disputes over Brexit, saying: "Some of the noise is generated by people who are not happy with the agenda that I have".

Britain is embarking on the first full round of Brexit negotiations, as the Cabinet remains in all-out war over the Government's negotiating strategy.

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We made a good start last month, and this week we'll be getting into the real substance, he said.

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