Germany: no punishment for UK, but EU exit good for no one

Chancellor calls his role in election campaign ‘not the one I would have liked

Almost a year to the day since Britons shocked themselves and their neighbours by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main trading partner, and nearly three months since Prime Minister Theresa May locked them into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019, almost nothing about the future is clear.

With Britain's negotiations on the terms of its departure from the European Union set to begin on Monday, the country risks skills shortages and losing business if it ends freedom of movement without a new plan for attracting workers, the report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said. "Our objective is clear; we must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit, first for citizens but also for the beneficiaries of European Union policies, and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland".

And Hammond described the divorce bill figures being bandied around in Brussels as "the most egregious pre-negotiation posturing".

He said: "It is at testing times like these that we are reminded of the values and the resolve that we share with our closest allies in Europe".

Davis said the talks would be carried out in "a positive and constructive tone", with Britain looking to forge a "strong and special partnership for the future".

"The problem is that while the United Kingdom voted for Brexit, there is no clear structure of what were the most important elements that the negotiating team should aim to achieve".

Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019.

Business leaders are concerned about the government's stated position that "no deal is better than a bad deal" for Brexit.

Sounding conciliatory, Britain's Boris Johnson said as he arrived at a meeting with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg that he looked forward to "a happy revolution" in relations that would be good for Britain and the rest of Europe.

But Union leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to quit.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted previous year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

The groups say they accept the result of last year's EU Referendum but have come together "to urge the Government to put the economy first". "We will be fighting for all of these issues and for a final say when the talks are resolved".

"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, another European source said.

"He will also face an enormous amount of resistance on the ground from the vested interests of the trade unions which still wield an enormous amount of influence, and could make life very hard for the inexperienced new President and his party". Business leaders have already warned against such a "cliff edge" scenario and are eager to see a transitional period to give them time to adjust after the split.

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