Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday

UK election throws up wider array of Brexit alternatives

One diplomat said May tried to "hijack" the summit by drawing other leaders into Brexit talks, though European Union officials played down suggestions of any agenda row with London. "They can't have it both ways, it has to be dealt with sensibly", she said.

"We would restore faith in politics if we could show that this parliament can at least function in presenting a view in the national interest which would command a majority on a cross party basis", said pro-European Conservative lawmaker Ken Clarke.

While May has repeatedly said she wants a special and deep partnership with the club Britain joined in 1973, she has also laced her assurances with threats that a breakdown of talks could harm security cooperation. "It is the only way to unite the country and strengthen our bargaining power with the European Union".

Besides forging a deal to keep her job and preparing for Brexit talks, May is also grappling with a crisis over the breakdown in power-sharing between the pro-British DUP and the Catholic nationalist Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland's separate, devolved government.

"We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens", he said.

As Britain entered a sixth day of political turmoil, May's team continued talks with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to secure their support in parliament after May failed to win a majority in Thursday's election.

It's the first time a country has left the European Union so the negotiators - led by former French government minister and European Union commissioner Michel Barnier and Britain's David Davis - will also be navigating uncharted waters.

But as the first senior royal to discuss Brexit, he claimed companies were eyeing fresh opportunities in non-EU markets once Britain leaves the bloc.

May's botched election gamble has left her so weakened that her Brexit strategy is the subject of public debate inside her party, with two former prime ministers calling on her to soften her European Union exit approach.

"We made the case to her that we would oppose any deal that undermined the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government's priority in the negotiations should be to protect jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

Asked whether Davis had shifted his position, a British official referred to a statement released by Davis's ministry on Friday which repeated calls for the withdrawal terms and future relationship to be "agreed alongside each other".

"As we enter negotiations next week we will do so in a spirit of honest cooperation taking a pragmatic approach to trying to find a solution that works both for the United Kingdom and European Union 27".

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.

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