Brussels – Britain and the European Union said they would get to the “heart of the matter” as they launched a fresh round of fraught Brexit negotiations in Brussels on Monday.

Brexit minister David Davis met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, to try to push through a deal ahead of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc, scheduled for March 2019.

During four days of talks the two sides hope to make progress on key issues surrounding Britain’s withdrawal, including citizens’ rights and its exit bill, so that talks can move on to discuss a future trade deal later this year.

“Now it’s time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation,” Davis told reporters as Barnier welcomed him to the headquarters of the European Commission.

“For us it’s incredibly important we now make good progress, that we negotiate through this and identify the differences so we can deal with them and identify the similarities so that we can reinforce them.” Barnier, who has repeatedly called on weakened British Prime Minister Theresa May to quickly set out her divorce strategy, said they needed to “examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress.”

© AFP OLI SCARFF The Brussels talks will be pored over by all sides in London, where Theresa May's minority government remains fragile one month after a snap election in which her Conservative Party lost its majority

© AFP OLI SCARFF – The Brussels talks will be pored over by all sides in London, where Theresa May’s minority government remains fragile one month after a snap election in which her Conservative Party lost its majorit