Britain-EU Brexit talks to start Monday as planned

Hammond, whom Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly would have sacked if she had secured a large parliamentary majority in last week's election, is now positioning himself as the architect of a softer Brexit.

Mr Barnier is due to report back to leaders of the 27 other EU states on Thursday to review progress ahead of a two-day summit of the European Council attended by Theresa May which starts later that day.

Philip Hammond, Britain's finance minister, says protecting the British economy should be the main objective of upcoming negotiations over the country's exit from the European Union.

On Tuesday May, following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, reiterated her government will get on with Brexit and make a success of it.

May has dismissed calls to resign following the dismal election result after calling a vote three years early in the hope of bolstering her slim majority, only to actually lose seats.

May set out her plan for a hard Brexit in January, saying the United Kingdom "cannot possibly" stay in the single market.

Britain and the European Union are to begin Brexit negotiations next week.

Mr Davis is expected to meet Mr Barnier at the Commission's headquarters in Belgian capital Brussels - however it is not known how long the initial round of talks will last.

The Prime Minister triggered Article 50, the legal process for leaving the European Union, on 29 March.

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"It's passing quicker than anyone believes. I can't negotiate with myself", he told the Financial Times newspaper. "Theresa's atrocious campaign has cast a shadow over these facts", said Farage, who assured that "there is a certainty in this whole bazaar: we will leave the European Union".

Barnier dismissed the suggestion of postponing the negotiations and said such a delay would only prompt further instability.

While the DUP are deeply eurosceptic, they have balked at some of the practical implications of a so-called hard Brexit - including the potential loss of an open border with the Republic of Ireland - and the talks were likely to touch on efforts to minimise the potential damage to Northern Ireland.

Hammond, who reportedly faced the prospect of being fired if May had won big in the election, said Friday that Britain must put the interests of the economy first during Brexit talks.

Brexit minister David Davis has insisted the approach to the European Union divorce has not changed, but May has recognized that a broader consensus needs to be built for Brexit and has made clear she would listen to all wings of the party on the issue.

They would not form a coalition.

Other EU governments will be happy to let Britain keep trade open as it would limit the hit to their own economies, officials told Reuters, though they are not ready to ease conditions that May would struggle to sell to her party's Brexit hardliners.

Irish republican party Sinn Fein added to the pressure on May yesterday. The UK government meanwhile had only indicated that they wanted to push a hard line Brexit as they repeatedly emphasised "No deal is better than a bad deal'".

"This new arrangement is very unsettling and people are concerned and anxious about what it may mean", Sinn Fein MP Michelle Glidernew told AFP.

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