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Brexit Talks Begin With U.K. in Turmoil

Prime Minister Theresa May’s leverage is draining away as she fends off domestic political opponents.
David Davis, left, and Michel Barnier, speak ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, June 19, 2017. 

David Davis, left, and Michel Barnier, speak ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, June 19, 2017. 

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, spent the weekend hiking in the French Alps. His British counterpart, David Davis, spent it mired in political intrigue over the fate of his boss, Prime Minister Theresa May.

The contrast underscored the relative positions as they headed into their first formal talks on unwinding the U.K.’s four decades of membership in Europe’s common market. In the year since 52 percent of voters confounded the experts by choosing to leave the bloc, the island nation has been increasingly destabilized just as the bonds of the 27 other EU nations tightened.