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UPDATE 5-As London feuds, full Brexit negotiations open in Brussels

* Infighting in UK PM May's cabinet over Brexit terms

* Davis, Barnier launch week-long first round

* Negotiators will work in teams on key priorities

* Critics see unprepared UK as Davis at table without notes
(Adds WTO trade talks, City of London policy chief, details)

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS, July 17 (Reuters) - Britain's Brexit minister
pledged to "get down to work" as he kicked off a first full
round of negotiations on Monday, but a year after Britons voted
narrowly to leave the EU their government seemed at war with
itself over the divorce terms.

Prime Minister Theresa May, her authority diminished after
losing her majority in a June election she did not need to call,
has struggled to control rival cabinet ministers. That worries
European Union negotiators who stress that 20 months until
Brexit is very little time to negotiate an orderly departure.

"It's time to get down to work and make this a successful
negotiation," veteran anti-EU campaigner David Davis, the Brexit
secretary, said after meeting the bloc's chief negotiator Michel
Barnier before their teams began four days of talks.

In London, media were rife with reports of infighting along
the lines of the Leave-Remain rifts that May's Conservative
party suffered during the referendum. Her spokesman said she
would tell ministers not to reveal cabinet discussions.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Brussels for a separate
meeting, passed up a chance to deny that ministers were at odds.

His backing helped secure a four-point victory for the Leave
camp in June last year. Asked if the cabinet was still "split on
Brexit", Johnson simply said he was pleased negotiations had
begun and then defended the offer May has made to protect the
rights of EU citizens in Britain.


Finance minister Philip Hammond, who, like May, campaigned
last year to keep Britain in the EU, accused unnamed colleagues
of trying to undermine what is seen as his push for a "soft
Brexit" that prioritises trade rather than hardliners' demands
for controls on EU immigration or an end to EU legal oversight.

Splits in London over basic issues, such as the need for a
phased withdrawal lasting for some years, could raise the risk
of a failure to reach any deal, EU officials say. That would
cause huge uncertainty for businesses and millions of people
across Europe as Britain would simply be out of the bloc on
March 30, 2019 with no clear rules on what that should mean.

Former British civil service chief Gus O'Donnell said: "It
appears that cabinet members haven't yet finished negotiating
with each other, never mind the EU."

British businesses are anxious to see a coherent approach in
government to indicate how a transition would work and how long
it would run, to help them make investment decisions.

A weekend of media briefings from competing factions within
the Conservatives did little to reassure companies, though most
cabinet ministers appear now to accept that there needs to be a
transition, or what May calls an "implementation phase".

A senior City of London official, Catherine McGuinness, told
Reuters that firms in Europe's main financial centre needed
clarity, ideally by the end of the year. "Decisions are already
being made," she said.


In Brussels, Davis acknowledged it was "incredibly
important" to make progress, "that we negotiate through this and
identify the differences so that we can deal with them and
identify the similarities so that we can reinforce them".

Barnier said, "We will now delve into the heart of the
matter", before the two sat down for a first meeting flanked by
the officials who will lead the detailed negotiations.

Pictures showed no notes on the table in front of Davis and
his two advisers, in contrast to sheaves of paperwork brought by
Barnier and his team. That prompted mockery among critical
British commentators who saw it as an image of the government's
failure to prepare for such a vital negotiation.

Davis later returned to London, leaving talks in the hands
of the civil servants. Barnier and Davis are to brief the media
on Thursday, when they should give political endorsement to
whatever officials have managed to agree. Until then, little
significant news may filter out from the talks.

Working groups focused on three issues: citizens' rights; an
EU demand that Britain pay billions of euros to cover ongoing EU
budget commitments; and other loose ends. Officials were also at
work at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to disentangle
Britain from the EU's WTO membership.

A fourth set of talks is focused on addressing problems in
Northern Ireland once a new EU land border divides the island.

Dozens of officials from both sides are involved, some
shuttling among meeting rooms scattered over nearly half the
floors of the European Commission's 13-storey Berlaymont
headquarters, fuelled, one said, by EU coffee and biscuits.
(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robert-Jan
Bartunek in Brussels and Elizabeth Piper and William James in
London; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Robin Pomeroy)

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