Chancellor Philip Hammond warns: We must avoid Brexit 'cliff edge'

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits the scene of a fire disaster which destroyed a tower block in north Kensington West London Britain

Britain and European Union hope the first phase of talks focusing on the exit terms will conclude by October, allowing trade negotiations to begin.

While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.

The EU has said that before it will start discussing a future trade deal with the United Kingdom, it wants to resolve the biggest uncertainties arising from Brexit, including the future rights of around 3 million EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the arrangements for avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain enters the negotiations with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May facing huge political challenges at home following an election which saw her Conservative party lose its majority in Parliament.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted past year to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.

"A fair deal is possible and far better than no deal", Barnier said at a press conference on Monday.

Treasury chief Philip Hammond and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said in separate speeches that Britain must use the negotiations to reduce obstacles to trade in services while protecting the benefits of free trade in goods.

"There may well be the need for certain transitional periods, some of them which will involve phasing out, others potentially phasing in", Barnier told reporters in Luxembourg after a meeting of European Union affairs ministers.


THE BREXIT talks began with a major concession to the European Union over the timetable for the discussions. Crucially, members of the Customs Union can not negotiate their own trade deals elsewhere in the world, as they are tied to the tariff arrangements of the 28-nation bloc.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, has moved to tighten regulation of clearinghouses that process euro-denominated contracts, threatening tens of thousands of jobs in Britain once the country leaves the EU.

"First, we need to get Brexit right".

"I would like us to get a good agreement that is in both sides' interests".

Pointing out the Tory manifesto had called for "an open economy and a welcoming society", he said: "While we seek to manage migration, we do not seek to shut it down".

Macron, a committed pro-EU leader and ally of Merkel, also easily won French legislative elections on Sunday, cementing his power base.

Hammond may also give more details of his budget plans after saying on Sunday that he was "not deaf" to the weariness of voters to almost a decade of spending cuts for many services and tight controls on public sector pay.

Barnier has warned that the negotiations must be wrapped up by October 2018 to allow time for all parties to ratify a final accord by March 2019.

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