Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday

Don't waste time, EU Brexit chief tells Britain

British Prime Minister Theresa May edged closer to clinching a deal to stay in power with the support of Northern Irish kingmakers on Wednesday, but faced a battle over Brexit just days before divorce talks are due to begin.

The Conservative leader lost her parliamentary majority in last week's election and is now desperately seeking the backing of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

May has already rejected the idea of an "exit from Brexit", and there is little chance London will actually reverse course.

Britain will be the first member state ever to leave the bloc.

Britain could lose its budget rebate and opt-outs if it changes its mind about Brexit and decides to remain a member of the European Union, an influential MEP has suggested.

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The cautiously friendly French comments came hours after Germany's influential finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, raised the possibility of an all-is-forgiven reconciliation.

But May, in Paris, quickly shot down the possibility of a British reversal.

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Macron said the door was still open for Britain to remain in the European Union, though he added that it would be hard to walk back once negotiations start. May's preference for immigration controls eventually led him to abandon his call for continued single-market membership, yet over the previous year he still publicly highlighted the risks to exporters of leaving the customs union, spoke up for the importance of financial services and said high-skilled foreigners would still be welcome in Britain.

Mr Verhofstadt urged the European Union to bring forward legislative proposals for closer integration of the remaining 27 member states, to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Brexit and the election of the pro-European Mr Macron. Because this is not about the Tories leaving the EU.

But with so much at stake for Britain and its $2.5 trillion economy, pressure was mounting on May from within and without her party to heed other voices. Divisions over Europe helped sink the premierships of Margaret Thatcher, Major and Cameron, and many of her lawmakers and party membership support a sharp break with the EU. "The door is obviously still open", he said.

It's almost three months since May formally triggered the two-year Brexit timetable.

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. But she squandered the lead in what was criticized even by her allies as a bumbling and wooden campaign.

The Commission statement said: "The opening of negotiations at political level next week will focus on issues related to citizens' rights, the financial settlement, the Northern Irish border and other separation issues, as part of the sequenced approach to the talks". "My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex".

"We're ready on the European side".

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