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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Brexit secretary urges ‘flexibility and imagination’ as UK starts latest talks with EU

David Davis is hoping to widen the talks to include trade

British secretary of state for exiting the European Union David Davis (L) is welcomed by the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, prior to their meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on July 17, 2017. Thierry Charlier / AFP
British secretary of state for exiting the European Union David Davis (L) is welcomed by the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, prior to their meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on July 17, 2017. Thierry Charlier / AFP

Britain’s Brexit secretary David Davis has arrived in Brussels to begin the third round of talks with the European Union over the UK’s exit strategy from the bloc.

Mr Davis is urging “flexibility and imagination” from both sides in the hope of widening the negotiations to include trade.

The EU has said that talks cannot move on to discuss broader issues until it is satisfied enough progress has been made on three key points; citizens' rights, the Irish border and the "divorce bill".

Mr Davis, who will be met in Belgium by the European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, is expected to say he wants to reach a “mutually beneficial agreement” for both Britain and the EU.

He hopes that a series of position papers published by the British government will help build on the last round of talks in July.

"For the UK, the week ahead is about driving forward the technical discussions across all the issues," he will say.

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"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.

"But in order to do that, we'll require flexibility and imagination from both sides."

He will add: "Our goal remains the same. We want to agree a deal that works in the best interests of both the EU and the UK, and people and businesses right across Europe.

"And we're ready to roll up our sleeves and get down to work once more.”

However, Britain has previously accused the EU of “massively over-egging” its financial demands for the divorce bill, estimated to be between £50-£80bn (Dh237-Dh380bn).

In return, Brussels have said the UK has adopted “magical thinking” on its solutions to the border with Ireland.

The talks will formally start on Monday afternoon between Mr Davis and Mr Barnier and conclude on Thursday.

Negotiations begin just two days after Britain’s opposition the Labour Party shifted its stance on their vision of Brexit.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said he wanted Britain to stay in the EU’s single market for an extended period.

The proposal would mean that there would be no additional customs and free movement of people would continue.