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Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday
December 18 2017, 06:27 | Irvin Gilbert
Negotiations over Britain's exit from the European Union will begin on Monday.
In Luxembourg, Britain's finance minister said that protecting jobs and the economy should be the main focus in upcoming discussions. "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams also led a party delegation including its leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, for a first meeting on Northern Ireland with the new Taoiseach.
The London fire, which claimed at least 17 lives, forced the cancellation of the City of London's Mansion House dinner, where the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, had the chance to revive calls for a more business-friendly exit from the EU.
"We want to see a Brexit that works for everybody, not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective but in the Republic of Ireland as well, so it is about a sensible Brexit", Foster told reporters.
Her failure to win a majority has put May under pressure over her Brexit plans from inside and outside her party and has prompted complaints about her choice of partner due to the DUP's stance on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The talks must be completed and endorsed by parliaments by the end of March 2019.
He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership in the single market and said Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government will negotiate in a "pragmatic" manner, striving for a solution that works for both sides.
With Prime Minister Theresa May still working to shore up a deal with a small Northern Irish party to prop up her Conservative government after she lost her parliamentary majority in the June 8 election, Hammond's comments could be a sign that London is easing back its approach to Brexit.
"We made the case to her that we would oppose any deal that undermined the Good Friday Agreement", he said.
It is not yet clear whether European Union withdrawal talks, which had been due to start on Monday, will also now go ahead on Wednesday, although Brexit Secretary David Davis has said they will start "next week".
"Our view is that a withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other", a spokesman for Britain's Brexit ministry said.
Arriving to a meeting with his counterparts in the 28-country EU, Hammond said his "clear view" is "we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward". "But the withdrawal and future are intimately linked".
But after a generation of discord over Europe inside her party, May's future could depend on her ability to please both the eurosceptic and pro-European factions in her party.