The big Brexit talks have kicked off in Brussels, with both sides sitting down for their first official discussions over the UK leaving the EU.
Britain’s Conservative Party lost its overall majority in the recent election, but Brexit Secretary David Davis said that has not changed their negotiating position.
“Because the membership of the single market requires the four freedoms to be obeyed, we need to bring back to the UK control of our laws of our borders,” Davis told reporters.
“We will leave the single market and be seeking to set up a free trade arrangement and a customs agreement. Similarly we will be leaving the Customs Union.
“The same arguments apply, but also because that’s the only way we can develop our free trade arrangements with the rest of the world and that is a major up-side for Britain.”
On the EU side, there is a push for the rights of expatriate citizens and a new border, notably cutting across Ireland, to be prioritised in the talks.
“The UK will no longer have the same rights and the same advantages as the EU member states,” said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator.
“However I am convinced that it is our common interest to establish a new partnership among the 27 and the UK. I’m convinced that this partnership will contribute to the enduring stability of our continent. We are united among the 27 and the institutions for these negotiations.”
Of course, there is also the matter of money to discuss. Britain’s facing a bill of tens of billions of euros before it leaves in 21 months’ time.