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Anti-Brexit demonstrators gathered outside the Parliament, waving EU and UK flags, on July 23, 2018. Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The latest round of Brexit negotiations kicked off today in Brussels, with just two months to go before October's EU Summit — widely seen as one of the last feasible dates to secure a withdrawal treaty.

Why it matters: Consensus has been reached on about 85% of the deal, per the NYTimes' Steven Erlanger, but several of the most contentious issues, including the Irish border dilemma and the U.K.'s customs and trade relationship with the EU, have yet to be resolved.

What to watch:

  • The original idea for an Irish "backstop," which would allow Northern Ireland to remain in the EU's shared "customs union" and "single market," was rejected by the U.K. in July. Thursday's negotiations will focus on finding an alternative solution to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • Friday's talks will seek to clarify the nature of the future trade relationship between the EU and the U.K., after Prime Minister Theresa May's "Chequers proposal" to remain in the EU's single market for goods, but not services, was also rejected.
  • In response to the stifling of the Chequers plan, Britain's new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has embarked on a tour of European capitals, lobbying the EU for "a change in approach" and warning of the severe market impact of a "no deal" Brexit.
  • The EU's Brexit negotiators reportedly fear that the British secret service has bugged their devices, according to The Telegraph. Regardless of whether that's true, the accusations themselves are a grim indication of the tensions between the negotiating parties.

Go deeper: The U.K. is changing its mind on Brexit.

Go deeper

49 mins ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.

4 hours ago - World

Schumer's Israel vise

Sen. Chuck Schumer addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2014. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's longtime support for Israel puts him on a collision course with the progressive wing of his party as the conflict between Israel and Hamas worsens.

Why it matters: This is the toughest political position the New York Democrat has been in since becoming majority leader. The fighting in the Middle East is dividing his party — and creating a clear rift among its different wings.