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Second round of Brexit talks begins as discrepancy and uncertainty clouding negotiations

Second round of Brexit talks begins as discrepancy and uncertainty clouding negotiations

Britain's Brexit minister vowed to "get down to work" as he kicked off a first full round of negotiations on Monday, a year after Britons voted narrowly to quit the European Union their government still seemed at odds over what it wants.

Both sides are expected to answer questions on the negotiations progress on Thursday, as the working groups are expected to get most of the job done, while Davis will be in London on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It is understood that Mr Davis said in private: "If Manchester United played Real Madrid, you wouldn't let Real pick the referee".

Monday's discussions will focus on citizen's rights and the bill the United Kingdom will pay to exit.

Protecting the rights of all our citizens is the priority for me going into this round and I'm clear that it's something we must make real progress on.

Monday's talks, however, come amid signs of increasingly serious splits within the United Kingdom government over the preferred approach to the talks, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, complaining on Sunday that he was being briefed against by fellow ministers opposed to his pro-business focus.

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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 what May calls an "implementation phase".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson then fanned the flames when he said in the Commons that Brussels could "go whistle" if it expected the United Kingdom to pay a hefty "divorce bill" in respect of its outstanding financial obligations. The EU has recently asked London to be clear on the financial settlement issue as without an agreement on the bill, the talks on a potential future trade deal can not advance.

Further talks are expected in late August and the autumn ahead of a Brussels summit in late October, where European Union leaders will decide whether the United Kingdom has made "sufficient progress" on the Brexit divorce to allow trade talks to go ahead.

On that timetable, Barnier reckons, a broad political deal on the outlines of a new, open trading relationship could be in place by late next year, allowing for a transitional phase of up to a few years after Brexit to negotiate all the details.

On Sunday, the former Tory chair Chris Patten warned that the Brexit deadlock represented one of the bleakest moments in British postwar history.


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