The first day of the negotiations began at the European Commission offices in Brussels.
There's little evidence Britons have changed their mind over leaving the EU.
With May still hammering out the details of a post-election deal to stay in power with the support of a small Northern Irish party, there are fears of a disorderly exit that would weaken the West, imperil Britain's $2.5 trillion economy and undermine London's position as the only financial center to rival NY.
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United Kingdom negotiator David Davis and the EU's Barnier have one key issue over the first weeks of talks: building trust after months of haggling over leaks and figures over the final bill that Britain would have to pay for leaving.
Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain a year ago voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first country ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.
Speculation has also mounted that she could now seek a softer Brexit, which involves staying in either the EU's single market or customs union.
The talks are starting on time despite chaos in London after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority this month after a disastrous election result.
While European leaders try to gauge what to expect from Britain, May is so weakened that her own finance minister and the partners on whom she will rely for her majority, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, are giving her public guidance.
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.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is newly influential after winning a crucial 13 seats in Scotland, has said Britain should prioritise "freedom to trade and our economic growth".
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He said such a Brexit would mean "that we segue seamlessly from the customs union that we are in at the moment to a new arrangement in the future that will continue to allow British goods to flow not just without tariffs, because actually tariffs are a relatively small part of the problem, it is without delays and bureaucracy".
"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, another European source said. "That's a statement of legal fact", he told BBC television. Northern Ireland does not want a Brexit that puts customs posts on its border with the Irish Republic, an European Union member.
But Hammond said transitional arrangements would be necessary, to give business greater certainty.
"In testing times like these we are reminded of the values and resolve we share with our closest allies in Europe", he said, referring to the latest reported terror attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal. They do not need to do a soft deal to try to preserve the union in a weaker form, they have more reason now to get tough on Britain to show others what they could lose.
And Hammond described the divorce bill figures being bandied around in Brussels as "the most egregious pre-negotiation posturing". The group said any deal should minimize trade barriers and include a flexible immigration system.
She'd rather walk out with no deal on trade and the UK's future relationship than one that's bad for Britain.
The chancellor said he would reject any deal "designed to destroy us".
The British government plans to have the next Parliament hold a two-year session to deal with the expected onslaught of Brexit-related legislation.
May had promised to take Britain completely out of the bloc's common trading area and slash the number of people coming from the EU.
The post 'Sombre' Britain prepares for historic Brexit talks appeared first on Vanguard News.
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