Theresa May has been told she must put more money on the table by the start of next month if the European Union is to agree to move Brexit trade talks to the second phase of negotiations.
EU Council president Donald Tusk has warned the Prime Minister that “much more progress” was needed from the UK on the “divorce bill” and the Irish border to break the deadlock.
If the UK comes to the party, Mr Tusk said the EU had completed the internal work necessary to give the green light for talks on trade and transition to start at the next European Council summit in Brussels on December 14-15.
Speaking yesterday after an EU jobs summit in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, Mr Tusk said he had told Mrs May “this progress needs to happen at the beginning of December at the latest”.
“We will be ready to move onto the second phase already in December, but in order to do that we need to see more progress from the UK side,” Mr Tusk said.
“While good progress on citizens’ rights is being made, we need to see much more progress on Ireland and on the financial settlement.”
The pair are due to meet again this Friday.
Mrs May repeated her promise that the UK will “honour our commitments” to the EU as it leaves the bloc, but has come under increasing pressure to go further.
She also used yesterday’s gathering to meet French president Emmanuel Macron, Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni and Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar as she attempted to build support.
Mrs May said: “We are agreed that good progress has been made, but there is more to be done, that we should move forwards together towards that point where sufficient progress can be declared and we can look ahead to what I have already said I want to see as a deep and comprehensive and special partnership between the UK and the remaining 27 members of the EU.”
The effective stalemate remained as one of the proposal’s leading critics, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, warned Mrs May she was facing defeat on her “idiotic” plan to enshrine the Brexit date in law.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not back down over her demand for 29 March 2019 to be fixed in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. But Mr Grieve said there were “at least half a dozen to potentially a dozen more” rebels than the 15 reported “Brexit mutineers” who could oppose the move in a House of Commons vote.