British and European Union envoys on Monday began a first round of negotiations on Britain's divorce from the EU with both sides saying it was high time to tackle details, though feuding within the London cabinet over Brexit terms may trouble the process. Kate King reports.
A jovial mood in the corridors of change ahead of the first full round of talks on Britain's exit from the EU. Pleasantries aside, both parties keen to stress they're ready to tackle the tough issues. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH BREXIT SECRETARY, DAVID DAVIS, SAYING: "Now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation." Successful for who - could end up being the biggest question. The UK clear on what its priorities are. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH BREXIT SECRETARY, DAVID DAVIS, SAYING: "It's four categories, really. The issue of citizens rights, the issue of finance, the issue of separation issues, and, of course, separately, Northern Ireland." But first Britain may need to sort out its own parliament. Theresa May's cabinet appears to be bitterly divided over the type of outcome it wants from the Brexit talks. Finance minister Philip Hammond has emerged as the champion of a "soft Brexit" prioritising trade ties with the EU over curbing immigration. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CCLA JAMES BEVAN SAYING: "I look back to the general election when Mrs. May was expecting a significant majority as a turning point in terms of the conservative approach to the Brexit's negotiations and I think she no longer has the whip hand in terms of keeping her troops in order. And against that backdrop we should expect there to be considerable dissent." A soft Brexit could also see a transition period of two years or more post Brexit in March 2019, to ease the disruptive effect on society and the economy. Though the EU's likely to demand that Britain pays some 60 billion euros to cover ongoing EU budget commitments before it budges on much else. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU NEGOTIATOR, MICHEL BARNIER, SAYING: "Our negotiating groups will work on citizen's rights, on the financial settlement." There's not expected to be any update on how divorce negotiations are going until Thursday. A sign no-one wants any dirty laundry aired in public.