German minister sees hope of 'soft' Brexit, with conditions

May's authority was severely weakened when she lost her parliamentary majority in an election on June 8.

"It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance", she said.

"Many people are afraid that what is presented as a very generous offer will not be seen as very generous, which could really contribute to a negative atmosphere", a European source said.

His initial bullish stance has been tempered with experience in Government and he has already acknowledged it could take "years and years" to bring immigration down, and suggested the United Kingdom may have to pay for access to the single market. The UK would seek a softer break from the EU, Rasmussen added. He will be under pressure as the replacement of the highly-experienced Sir Ivan Rogers, who announced his shock resignation with accusations the Government was suffering from "muddled thinking" over Brexit.

In recent days European Union officials have met Olly Robbins, the permanent secretary of the Department for Exiting the EU.

Brexit minister David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, to kick off hugely complex withdrawal negotiations that are expected to last less than two years.

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Working groups will be set up to focus on three key areas - the status of EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the EU; the divorce bill for Britain; and the future of the Northern Irish border with EU member Ireland. A second phase of talks on future trade relations will follow only after they are satisfied that sufficient progress has been made on these issues.

Sabine Weyand: Mr Barnier's deputy, a trilingual German-born trade specialist who studied English literature, political science and economics at university, and spent time as a student at Cambridge.

Three days after the talks begin, May is due to travel to Brussels for an European Union summit - a chance for the other 27 leaders to take stock of their negotiating partner in the sharply altered climate brought about by the dramas of the past two weeks. "But we want to keep the door open for the British".

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "maybe there is now a chance to achieve a so-called "soft Brexit.'" But he said staying in the single market would require Britain to accept European Union workers" freedom of movement.

On Monday, Mr Coveney said: "As the representative of the Irish Government at the talks, I will do my utmost to support the parties in reaching an agreement which ensures that the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement is fully protected, that all of its institutions function effectively and fairly and that previous agreements are honourably implemented".

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