Most top United Kingdom ministers agreed on need for Brexit transition period: Hammond

Roughly 4-in-10 UK firms report Brexit hit to investment: CBI

BRUSSELS, Belgium―Britain and the European Union launch a new round of fraught Brexit negotiations Monday with Brussels pressing weakened British Prime Minister Theresa May to quickly set out her divorce strategy.

"We're into a real process now with the start of negotiations and I think you'll find the cabinet rallying around a position that maximizes our negotiating leverage and gets the best possible deal for Britain".

Monday's discussions will focus on citizen's rights and the bill the United Kingdom will pay to exit.

Barnier said: "We will now delve into the heart of the matter".

"We made a good start last month but we are now getting into the substance of the matter", British Brexit Secretary David Davis told reporters as he was welcomed at the European Commission in Brussels by the EU negotiator Michel Barnier. "Now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation".

Mr Barnier told the watching media they would not be taking questions, saying they must wait until Thursday when the round of talks end, adding: "Now we have to work".

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During four days of talks the two sides hope to make progress on key issues surrounding Britain's withdrawal, including citizens' rights and its exit bill, so that negotiations can move on to discuss a future trade deal later this year.

EU negotiators want to be able to impose huge fines on Britain for breaking European laws for years after Brexit, it has emerged.

There was little let-up on Monday, with the Telegraph citing an unidentified cabinet minister as accusing Hammond of trying to frustrate Brexit, and treating pro-leave colleagues as if they were pirates who had kidnapped him.

"The clock is ticking", he said on Wednesday, displaying a degree of impatience with British ministers who continue to dismiss EU demands that they first must agree in principle that London will owe the Union a hefty amount - probably in the tens of billions of euros - to cover its existing commitments.

At a separate meeting of foreign ministers, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted that a recent offer by Prime Minister Theresa May for European Union citizens in Britain is "a very fair, serious offer".

Mr Grayling said the suggestion that there were "profound and fundamental differences" between Cabinet ministers on Brexit were "a bit exaggerated", but admitted: "We're not a group of clones, we have discussions around the Cabinet table and outside Cabinet, we debate issues, we decide what's right and then we get on with it".

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