BRUSSELS: The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday said he hoped for a “constructive” start to Brexit talks with Britain as formal negotiations began in Brussels. “I hope that today we can identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the [EU summit] later this week that we had a constructive opening of the negotiations,” the Frenchman said as he greeted Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis. A year after Britain’s seismic referendum, Brexit minister David Davis and the European Union’s French chief negotiator Michel Barnier met at the European Commission in Brussels. At stake in hugely complex talks facing a March 2019 deadline is not just Britain’s future but a western political order that would be badly shaken by a failure to reach a deal. British foreign minister Boris Johnson, like Davis a prominent backer of the leave campaign, also sounded an upbeat note. The situation is very different from 12 months ago when the Brexiteers were riding high, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s entire approach called into question after a disastrous election performance on June 8.