UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

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UK's Hammond says economy should be priority in Brexit talks

Hammond, speaking to reporters before a meeting of the 28 European Union finance ministers on Friday, said Britain should work closely with the bloc to prioritise jobs and prosperity when Brexit talks start next week.

The EU has insisted that this sequence involve sorting out Britain's departure and urgent issues like the rights of citizens affected by Brexit before the shape of future ties or trade are discussed. The negotiations are scheduled to last approximately 18 months, from June to November 2018, a short period of time given the number of subjects that will need to be covered as the United Kingdom breaks free of the EU.

"As we set out in the Article 50 letter, our view is that withdrawal agreement and terms of the future relationship must be agreed alongside each other", a spokesman for Britain's Brexit ministry said. "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

Philip Hammond, Britain's finance minister, says protecting the British economy should be the main objective of upcoming negotiations over the country's exit from the European Union.

"My clear view and I believe the view of the majority of people in Great Britain is we should be protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity", Chancellor of the Exchequer Hammond said as he arrived for regular talks with his European Union counterparts in Luxembourg.

"We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account". "We will negotiate in good faith but it is a negotiation, we recognize there will be an exchange of views and we will take that forward in a spirit of genuine cooperation".

Britain's giant banking industry and other business groups see Hammond as their most powerful ally in government and they were anxious when it appeared he might lose his job in the run-up to the election.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had hoped to enter negotiations with a strong bargaining hand, but the recent snap general elections have left her without a majority in Parliament and mired in talks between her Conservative Party and the minor Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland in a bid to achieve a ruling pact.

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

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