Brexit talks to start next week, Theresa May announces

Prime Minister says the general election has revealed 'a unity of purpose' among British voters for the Government to get on with EU negotiations

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Indy Politics

Theresa May has insisted Brexit negotiations will begin next week as planned despite the upheaval caused by last week's general election.

Talks with the rest of the EU remain "on course", she said after a meeting with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris.

Ms May has faced calls to delay negotiations with Brussels, which are scheduled to start on Monday

But the Prime Minister brushed aside appeals from her opponents during a press conferene in the Elysee Palace, insisting the timetable was unchanged.

"We have been very clear we want to maintain a close relationship and a close partnership with the EU and individual member states into the future, including in the areas we've discussed this evening," she said.

"And I confirmed to President Macron that the timetable for the Brexit negotiation remains on course and will begin next week."

Ms May also said last week's vote had revealed "a unity of purpose" among British voters for the Government to get on with Brexit.

She said: "I think there is a unity of purpose among people in the United Kingdom.

"It's a unity of purpose, having voted to leave the EU, that their Government gets on with that and makes a success of it, and we are committed to developing a deep and special partnership with the EU.

"We want the EU to continue to remain strong and we want to continue to cooperate."

Macron says door 'remains open' for Britain to stay in EU

She added there was a "willingness and intent on both sides" to secure an arrangement for Brexit and there was a "good process" for the negotiations.

Mr Macron, meanwhile, said the "door remains open" to the UK staying inside the EU up until exit talks conclude.

Ms May was accompanied to Paris by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, with plans to stop the internet being a safe space for terrorists under discussion.

They include internet companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Google potentially being fined if they fail to remove extremist propaganda and terrorist material from their platforms.

The UK and France are also to develop plans to create a new legal liability for tech companies which fail to take action against unacceptable content.

And the two countries will lead joint work with internet giants to explore the potential for new tools to identify and remove harmful material automatically.

Ms Rudd and French interior minister Gerard Collomb will meet in the coming days to drive the agenda forward.

Ms May and Mr Macron are later due to watch the France v England football friendly international at the Stade de France, where crowds are expected to sing God Save The Queen and observe a minute's silence in honour of the victims of recent terror attacks in the UK.

The gesture of solidarity comes after English football fans sang the French national anthem at Wembley following terror attacks in Paris in 2015.