EU And Britain Meet For Second Round Of Brexit Negotiations

Former Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell claimed that David Davis can boost his hopes of beating Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson by winning the backing of the Chancellor

Former Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell claimed that David Davis can boost his hopes of beating Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson by winning the backing of the Chancellor

The second round of Brexit negotiations kicks off on Monday (17 July) in Brussels, focusing on the key issues of the divorce agreement.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, who like May campaigned last year to keep Britain in the European Union, said on Sunday he believed most of his cabinet colleagues now backed the idea of having two years or more of a transition period after Brexit in March 2019 - to soften the disruptive effect on society and the economy.

"Now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation", Davis told reporters as Barnier welcomed him to the headquarters of the European Commission.

"We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress", he said.

Teams from both sides will start meeting this afternoon, and are set to conclude the talks on Thursday. That was a reminder of a gulf in perceptions across the Channel where European Union leaders have assumed from the outset that Britain would need more than the two years allowed by treaty to negotiate the deal it wants to retain close, open trading links with the continent.

Britain is embarking on the first full round of Brexit negotiations, as the Cabinet remains in all-out war over the Government's negotiating strategy.

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".

The Brexit Secretary said progress had to be made this month on a deal for reciprocal rights for citizens.

Barnier's deputy, Sabine Weyand, and the permanent secretary of the United Kingdom department for exiting the EU, Olly Robbins, will focus on the issue of Ireland on Tuesday and meet regularly throughout the week.

Crucially, last month, Mr Davis caved in to the EU's insistence that the talks would move on to trade only when "enough progress" had been made on Brussels' three priorities.

Struggling for authority after losing her majority in last month's election, British PM Theresa May faces questions inside her party on whether she can exercise control. He added that Britain's proposal to safeguard the rights of European citizens is "good" and "I hope very much that people will look at that offer in the spirit it deserves". "The clock is ticking", he said once again last Wednesday.

One unnamed Cabinet minister was reported have hit back, claiming Mr Hammond was part of an attempt by "the Establishment" to prevent Britain ever leaving the EU.