EU says divorce bill, citizens' rights focus of Brexit talks

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He told The Scottish Farmer his party was in a strong position to fight for farmers and fishermen in Brexit talks, which will begin as planned on Monday.

David Davis, who leads the Department for Exiting the European Union, says in a joint statement Thursday that the decision comes after discussion in Brussels.

Brexit talks had been expected to begin in Brussels next week but May's loss of her parliamentary majority in a snap general election one week ago raised doubts about the date. "It continues and when the deal is done, it will be done", a senior source in the Conservative Party said on Thursday. A week after May lost her majority in an election she had called in the hope of strengthening her hand in the talks, some fellow Conservatives want her to focus more on limiting the damage to business and less on cutting immigration and other ties to the European Union when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The talks also gave her the opportunity to reassure the other parties that a tie-up with the DUP would not compromise Britain's impartiality in the delicate Northern Ireland peace process.

"We are starting", Barnier said on Twitter. A senior Brussels official said the amount, which compares to London's annual net European Union payment of around 10 billion euros, would still be "peanuts" in terms of the overall economy and also that the final bill would be determined less by technical and legal arguments than by hard-headed political horse-trading.

The Conservatives have 317 MPs while the DUP have 10.

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An election in March saw the Protestant, pro-British DUP finish narrowly ahead of Catholic socialists Sinn Fein.

"Look at what the Tories [Conservatives] have managed to do to the United Kingdom in the space of just one year, firstly calling a divisive and reckless European Union referendum. then having lost that gamble pursuing a hard Brexit path", Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said.

Brexit is a complicating factor in the mix.

Almost a fifth of the UK's food and drink exports go to the Republic of Ireland and in March industry bodies from across the British food and drink sector wrote an open letter to various government departments calling for "frictionless" tariff-free trade with Ireland to continue post-Brexit.

London, Belfast, Dublin and Brussels all want to keep the border open, but no agreement has been reached. "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".