A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started

A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started

The UK and the EU are now starting on the two-year negotiation process during which they will agree the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union and determine its future relationship with the continent.

The status of EU expatriates in Britain and that of United Kingdom citizens living in Europe were among the priorities as negotiations began between Brexit Secretary David Davis and Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator, in Brussels.

Prime Minister Theresa May had taken a hard-line approach on leaving the European Union but a disastrous election result for her Conservative party on June 8 has left London's policy in disarray and her own political future uncertain. "A deal like no other in history", Davis said in a statement as he headed into the talks.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Sunday if the negotiations are done right, it could present huge opportunities for Britain.

Negotiators from the two sides agreed to go ahead with the originally-planned start date of June 19 despite the snap election called by May backfiring, leaving her with a minority government and questions over that government's ability to begin the talks.

"The most important thing I think now is for us to. think about the new partnership, the deep and special partnership that we want to build with our friends", said Mr Johnson, who campaigned in last year's referendum to leave the EU.

Last week, the United Kingdom reportedly agreed that the talks would focus first on the key issue of separation before moving on to a possible trade deal.

These include the thorny issues of Britain's estimated 100-billion-euro ($112 billion) exit bill, the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain, and the fate of the border in Northern Ireland. European Union diplomats hope this first meeting, and a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where May will encounter - but not negotiate with - fellow European Union leaders, can improve the atmosphere after some spiky exchanges.

Brexit Secretary David Davis doubled down on the UK's position in May, predicting discussions over timetabling would be the "row of the summer".

After the initial shock of last year's Brexit vote, the bloc at 27 appears to have steadied in recent months and got a real morale boost with the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in May.

If Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, that would create huge uncertainties for citizens and businesses as well as issues like global security.

Today's talks are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said.

"In the first step we will deal with the most pressing issues".

Yet many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home, still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire.

Even Ms May's own immediate political survival is in doubt, 10 days after she lost her majority in an election.

But he warned that "we need to get there via a slope, not via a cliff edge".