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UK makes big concession on day one of Brexit talks

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/chief-brexit-negotiators-reveal-timetable-10920653">UK makes big concession on day one of Brexit talks</a>
 

Brexit Secretary David Davis appears to have conceded to EU demands during the first day of historic talks, by agreeing to a "two-phased" negotiation.

It means the divorce terms will be set first, before discussions on future trade relations.

Mr Davis had previously said not settling both elements simultaneously would be "the row of the summer".

It comes on the first day of the complex Brexit talks, with Mr Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announcing the timetable and negotiation plan for the UK leaving the bloc.

They said discussions would be split into three stages: citizen rights, the single financial settlement and other separation issues.

A "dialogue" about Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD - news) and Northern Ireland has been launched separately.

:: Brexit negotiations begin: What does each side want?

Mr Barnier spoke at a press conference after the first day to confirm that settling priority issues would build "trust on which to negotiate a new relationship".

He also reassured: "We will never work against the UK."

The two men will meet for a week every month to negotiate, and use the time in between to "work on proposals".

They will also co-chair the main Brexit meetings, and have power to create working groups to focus on particularly tricky topics.

A terms of reference document setting out the rules for both sides also states: "For both parties the default is transparency."

The next set of talks will begin on July 17.

Both negotiators included symbolic quotes in their separate statements. Mr Barnier quoted one of the EU's founding fathers, Jean Monnet, saying in French: "Ce qui est important, ce n'est, ni d'être optimiste, ni pessimiste, mais d'être détermine."

It translates as: "What is important is not to be optimistic, nor pessimistic, but to be determined."

Mr Davis chose a quote from Winston Churchill: "The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

He added: "Bridging between Churchill and Monet, I am certainly a determined optimist."