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People deserve transparency over Brexit arrangements

The second round of talks on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union began yesterday against a backdrop of near civil war in the Conservative government.

This week marks an important stage in a process that has already been much delayed by Theresa May and her colleagues as they fought an unnecessary election which has left them in a worse position than they started.

Mrs May is still prime minister, leading a minority government supported by the DUP, but the question is for how long?

It is clear that the divisions which drove her predecessor David Cameron to call a referendum in June last year are still in place as even those who agree on Britain leaving the EU are unable to reach agreement on what form it should take.

With Mrs May's standing deeply damaged following a disastrous election, it was only a matter of time before her rivals began plotting to replace her.

No one seems to think she will lead the Tories into another election so it is more an issue of when she will go.

The vicious infighting inside the government was apparent in recent days with leaks from the cabinet designed to show chancellor Philip Hammond in a negative light.

Mr Hammond favours a lengthy transition period to allow the economy time to adapt to the new post-EU arrangements while other potential leadership challengers, such as David Davis, want a hard Brexit.

It was Mr Davis who turned up in Brussels yesterday for the latest round of talks although his visit was shortlived, perhaps surprising given the significant matters to be discussed, including the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Meanwhile, European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, who said she has yet to see options for a soft border, called for the greatest possible openness around the Brexit negotiations.

Given the momentous repercussions of leaving the EU, every citizen who will be affected deserves transparency and honesty from the key players.

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