The European Commission has appointed a chief Brexit negotiator but has made clear he will not engage with Britain until Article 50 is formally triggered - nor start work until 1 October.
Michel Barnier, a former French government minister and ex-European Commission vice-president, will start work after the holiday season and then spend the next few months preparing the ground in Brussels for the negotiations. His appointment was announced by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he wanted "an experienced politician for this difficult job".
Describing Mr Barnier as "a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations", Mr Juncker said: "I am very glad that my friend Michel Barnier accepted this important and challenging task. I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job.
"He has an extensive network of contacts in the capitals of all EU member states and in the European Parliament, which I consider a valuable asset for this function.
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