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At 11:00 BST today, day one of the Brexit negotiations will lift off at the European Commission buildings in Brussels. Subjects for the negotiations include the status of expats, the UK’s “divorce bill” and the Northern Ireland border. Brexit Secretary David Davis will call for “a deal like no other in history,” and sources say the talks will follow the EU’s preferred pattern of exit negotiations first, with the future relations between the two sides – including the free trade deal the UK is seeking – at a later date.

For Prime Minister Theresa May, the negotiations couldn’t have come at a worse time. Leading business groups like the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors, are calling on prime minister Theresa May to drop her “hard Brexit” plans. They are backed by the UK polls, who find majority support for a softer Brexit. Also, the negotiations begin despite May yet failing to have agreed on a deal with the DUP to support her government’s Queen’s Speech next week. According to several UK insiders, the speech will have to satisfy supporters of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit if May is to avoid a leadership challenge.

Mr Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, a former French foreign minister and EU commissioner, will give a joint press conference at the end of the day. The UK is set to leave the EU by the end of March 2019.