Rebels among UK's ruling Conservatives to scupper 'no-deal' Brexit

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Mrs May will also brief her counterparts on the UK's commitment to a new £75 million plan created to stem the flow of illegal migrants from Africa to Europe.

Britain agreed on Monday to the EU's timetable for Brexit talks, which states that sufficient progress must be made on divorce issues including citizens rights, the exit bill and Northern Ireland's border with the Republic before negotiations can start on a future trade deal.

Merkel said she wanted the talks to be conducted "in a good spirit" and that Britain's position would become evident in the coming months.

The Brussels talks began nearly a year after Britain unexpectedly voted in a referendum to leave the European Union and less than two weeks after British Prime Minister Theresa May lost her overall majority in snap elections that raised questions about the stability of the government the European Union faces.

The first day of the Brexit negotiations brought the news that they are going to be focused first on citizens' rights, the financial settlement, and the question of borders, especially the border between European Union member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

Under the agreed structure talks about trade would follow the earlier tranche of negotiations, not be held in parallel, as previously requested by the UK.

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In their June 2016 referendum, the majority of the British citizens voted in favor of Brexit (51.9% to 48.1%).

The talks may also have to end early, as European Union staff have been told they can leave work at 4 pm if the weather is too warm, the report said.

Northern Ireland's border with the Republic and the bill for Britain's previous European Union commitments will also be high on the agenda, Mr Barnier said.

"If such a scenario is looming, they would have the numbers to pass an amendment to the European Union repeal bill ... cancelling (it)", the BBC's political editor Nicholas Watt said, citing senior Conservatives.

She had hoped to strengthen her government's hand in the negotiations by holding a snap election this month and solidifying the hold of her Conservative Party on the parliament.

Barnier, following the talks in a joint press conference with Davis, said: "Today we agreed on dates".

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"The UK has been crystal clear in our approach to the negotiations, the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account". And it was useful for me to sit down with my counterpart, David Davis.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, bluntly warned that such an accord would not be fleshed out until after the United Kingdom leaves in less than two years.

The Brexit Secretary said: "The position hasn't changed, we have the Lancaster House speech, the two white papers, and the Article 50 letter, all backed up by a manifesto too".

Nearly a year after British voters took the decision to leave the bloc, Davis took a team of officials to open the negotiations with Barnier in the European Commission's Berlaymont building on Monday.

"In the first step, the negotiation rounds will be broken down into three groups - citizen rights, the single financial settlement, and other separation issues".

Now, Soros said the hit to consumer spending from price increases as the pound weakened had seen the United Kingdom go from being one of the fastest growing economies in the advanced world in 2016 to the slowest at the start of the current year.

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