Britain eyes Brexit deal 'like no other in history'

When do the talks begin?

Five major United Kingdom business bodies have come together to call for continued access to the European single market until a final Brexit deal is made with the EU.

"It is vital that the deal we strike allows both the UK and the European Union to thrive, as part of the new deep and special partnership we want with our closest allies and friends", the UK Brexit secretary said Sunday in the light of the upcoming talks, as quoted in the UK government's statement.

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

We will be leaving the single market and by the way, we will be leaving the customs union.

In order to overcome opposition in the parliament, UK Prime Minister and the Conservatives' leader Theresa May, called the snap election to secure more seats, but as a result, her party lost 12 instead, and the overall majority in the House of Commons, a lower house of the UK parliament. However, it faces the prospect of delivering a Queen's speech while still thrashing out a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.

The government is due to present its legislative programme at the opening of parliament on Wednesday, which will be followed by a key confidence vote several days later. At home, May is struggling to stay in office as her Conservative Party questions both her election strategy and her handling of a London tower block fire that has left scores dead.

Opponents of Brexit fear that ditching a 60-year strategy of trying to hedge European integration with a special relationship with Washington or a brittle Commonwealth of former colonies would undermine what remains of Britain's global influence.

Some MPs within the Conservatives are now pressing the Prime Minister to pursue a softer Brexit. A study from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, published today, has found that one in four firms say they would be damaged by a potential requirement for European Union nationals to have a job offer before they come to the UK.

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Unless an extension is agreed upon, Britain and the European Union must formalise their divorce by March 29, 2019. Mr Hammond also warned about failing to get a Brexit deal.

But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.

The start of the negotiations comes as work continues across the British government to prepare Britain for life outside of the EU. The EU insists that phase one of talks will focus only on the terms of withdrawal, and not on a future trade relationship.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Hammond said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time". "We have to be very clear that we're not going to do it in a way that damages the economy", he said.

On Sunday, the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, flew to Washington DC on his first trade trip since the election. May has said that Britain's vote to leave the European Union was in part a vote to reduce immigration.

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