Brexit Secretary David Davis has started negotiations in Brussels today that will set the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union.
The negotiations will also set the terms of the UK’s relationship with the rest of the continent for generations to come.
Mr Davis is a long-time supporter of Britain leaving the EU, unlike Prime Minister Theresa May, who was pro-Remain. He met chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, a former French minister, at the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters at 11am. Mr Barnier and Mr Davis will give a joint news conference after talks among their teams, which will last seven hours, are concluded.
EU diplomats are hoping that this first meeting, and a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday can improve the atmosphere between both parties.
Resisting British demands for immediate talks on a future free trade arrangement, EU is insisting that there should be an outline agreement by the end of the year, especially since London no longer seems sure of what trade arrangements it will ask for.
Union leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to follow.