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Brexit talks start as war breaks out among United Kingdom ministers

Brexit talks start as war breaks out among United Kingdom ministers

Barnier said they would brief the media on Thursday after the first round wraps up.

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.

Negotiators will focus on key issues concerning Britain's withdrawal, including citizens' rights, Britain's exit bill and the border in Northern Ireland.

Ahead of the first detailed negotiating sessions, Barnier and his opposite number Brexit secretary David Davis said that the menu for the talks would include Citizens' rights, the U.K.'s financial obligations to the European Union - known as the Brexit bill - separation issues, and Northern Ireland.

In Brussels, Davis acknowledged it was "incredibly important" to make progress, "that we negotiate through this and identify the differences so that we can deal with them and identify the similarities so that we can reinforce them". "We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress".

"We made a good start last month but. we are now getting into the substance of the matter", Davis told reporters as he was welcomed at the European Commission in Brussels by Barnier, a little more than a year after Britons voted by a narrow majority to leave the EU.

Last week, the United Kingdom acknowledged for the first time it will have to pay a contribution upon leaving. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond exposed tensions within the British cabinet at the weekend by stating that transitional arrangements at the end of talks are likely to last a couple of years, far longer than the couple of months suggested by Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

European Union leaders unanimously speak of rare harmony among them on how to deal with Britain so that Brexit does not unravel the European Union further.

The British government issued what it called a "fair and serious" offer to grant EU nationals "settled status" but the offer was described by the European Council President as below expectations.

"If you want my opinion, some of the noise is generated by people who are not happy with the agenda that I have, over the last few weeks, tried to advance, of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit which is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising living standards in the future".

"The plenary meetings [of the Brexit talks] will show us whether there is a realistic basis for agreement or whether the British government can not move at all because of its own problems", said Elmar Brok, a German centre-right MEP who helps coordinate the European parliament's position on Brexit.