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UK officials in Brussels to resume Brexit talks

UK officials have headed to the Belgian capital of Brussels to resume negotiations with European Union (EU) officials over the country’s exit from the bloc.

Leading the British negotiators is Brexit secretary David Davis, who is hoping to convince Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier to widen the talks to include the future of ties between the two sides.

“For the UK, the week ahead is about driving forward the technical discussions across all the issues,” he is expected to say before the third round of the talks begins later on Monday.

“We want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree, and make further progress on a range of issues,” he will add. “But in order to do that, we’ll require flexibility and imagination from both sides.”

So far, the two sides have failed to reach a meaningful agreement on the issues of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the “divorce bill.” The EU insists that London should address these areas before proceeding to other matters.

Davis will say that he hopes this week’s “technical talks” would build on the July round while making use of  the papers the UK has recently published on its vision for its withdrawal from the EU.

Barnier said last week that the new round of talks would revolve around “orderly withdrawal.”

European officials are growing frustrated with what they call the “intra-UK debate” on what the British position should be in the talks.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her ruling Conservative government plunged into chaos in June, after May’s gamble in calling an early general election backfired.

May was hoping to get a stronger majority in the parliament in order to overcome the opposition to her Brexit policies. However, the vote cost the Tories their majority in the parliament and weakened May’s position as party leader.

The Labour Party on the hand used the vote as an opportunity to dramatically increase its parliamentary seats and challenge May.

While May has openly stated that she would take the country out of the EU even if she fails to strike a deal with the bloc, Labour leader Jeremy Cobyn has asked for a softer approach that involves retaining Britain’s access to the EU’s tariff free Single Market.

British officials have also failed to respond clearly to the EU’s calls for a divorce payment.

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