Britain should stress jobs, prosperity in Brexit talks - Hammond

Brexit Theresa May confirms negotiations will begin next week

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has long argued that the initial talks should center on brokering deals on citizens' rights, money owed by the United Kingdom and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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

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

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond on Friday said London Britain must prioritise prosperity in Brexit talks with the European Union that begin next week in Brussels.

The Brexit Department said in a statement that the UK's withdrawal and future ties are "intimately linked".

"We will build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans and that means giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to scrutinise these bills by holding a two-year session of Parliament", she said.

"We set out very clearly our desired outcome in the prime minister's Lancaster House speech and in the article 50 letter that we've sent", he said. "All the options are balanced and come with obligations", an European Union official working on Brexit said, noting that May had seemed to be looking for a sweeping free trade deal like that agreed past year with Canada but that some of those calling for "soft" Brexit cited arrangements such as those with Norway and Turkey. "We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens".

"We are just about to start the negotiation".

Hammond said his presence at the EU finance ministers' meeting was "a sign of our commitment to being close partners with the European Union after we've left".

At talks with his counterparts in the 28-country EU, Philip Hammond said his "clear view and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward".

Mr Hammond's comments are likely to be seen as a further indication that he is pressing for the Government to take a "softer" line on Brexit than the immigration-driven approach previously set out by Theresa May. Hammond had been due to spell out his views on Brexit in a speech on Thursday, but it was cancelled following a deadly tower block fire in London on Wednesday.

The EU's executive Commission said in a statement Friday that the first round of negotiations in Brussels will be part of a "sequenced approach to the talks".

"Both sides will also discuss the structure of the negotiations and the issues that need to be addressed over the coming months".

Even with a deal nearing to secure her government's survival, May is so weakened that her Brexit strategy has become the subject of public debate inside her own party, with two former prime ministers urging her to soften her approach.

Hammond, who may be in the vanguard of the shift, said in Luxembourg that he favors a "pragmatic" Brexit that safeguards jobs and the economy.

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