First round of Brexit talks to begin on Monday June 19

Aaron Brown
June 18, 2017

Ireland's new prime minister will meet his British counterpart, Theresa May, for the first time on Monday to discuss Brexit and the political deadlock in the Northern Irish regional assembly.

Also on the programme, a leading member of the Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland said he he did not necessarily believe there would be any concessions to the DUP to encourage them to support the government.

"We would restore faith in politics if we could show that this parliament can at least function in presenting a view in the national interest which would command a majority on a cross party basis", said pro-European Conservative lawmaker Ken Clarke.

The UK Government wants the talks to take place in parallel during the Brexit process but both sides have made finding a solution to the issue of citizens' rights a priority.

The tightly managed timetable, known in European Union parlance as sequencing, means that negotiators will start discussing the "divorce settlement" - how much the United Kingdom will have to pay to exit the bloc - before it turns to talks on which ties the country will keep with Europe, if any.

But speaking in Dublin after a meeting with the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was down to Sinn Fein whether an agreement is reached.

But a deadly fire at a tower block in London could delay the announcement of any deal, BBC political reporter Norman Smith said. "We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens". Theresa May is now trying to agree a deal with the DUP, after the Tories' majority was demolished in last week's General Election, resulting in a hung parliament.

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The veteran conservative predicted that Britain would regret its departure from the bloc at some point in the future. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the Prime Minister had not convinced him the "DUP tail is not wagging the Tory dog".

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The DUP is one of the most socially conservative parties in Europe, having sought to maintain some of its strictest limits on abortion and consistently opposed gay marriage.

Philip Hammond, Britain's finance minister, says protecting the British economy should be the main goal of upcoming negotiations over the country's exit from the European Union.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged to Conservative colleagues on Monday that there is a broad range of views on Brexit in the party and promised to reflect that - the clearest indication yet that she's willing to moderate her hardline approach after a disastrous election result last week left her fighting for her job.

"Our view is that withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other", said the spokesman.

"We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account", the spokesman said. "But the withdrawal and future are intimately linked".

But her vulnerability at home means that her plan to leave the EU's lucrative single market and customs union in order to impose strict limits on immigration is under intense scrutiny.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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