The Telegraph – Brexit Bulletin

Good afternoon.

Brexiteers hope Theresa May uses dinner tonight with her European counterparts to tell them that she will walk away from the Brexit negotiations unless they agree to discuss trade, but her deputy Damian Green poured cold water on such an idea this afternoon when he told journalists she wouldn’t do that. Boris Johnson struck a different tone at a press conference alongside the Mexican Foreign Minister, saying that the UK should be “prepared to walk away” and that “we will come through it very well” if that happens.

The Prime Minister is trying to be firm nonetheless, urging EU leaders to show “urgency” in finding agreement over Brexit. Their response has so far been lukewarm. They recognise that the process has to accelerate, but suggest – as Angela Merkel did – that “sufficient progress” would only be reached – meaning trade can be properly discussed – in December. They are set, in the meantime, to approve guidelines ( known early to Britain through Twitter) that would allow Michel Barnier to hold “internal preparatory” talks among the bloc.

To move the process along, both the Swedish and Dutch premiers want Mrs May to be more forthcoming on the opening issues – especially the so-called divorce bill. They may be grateful to David Davis for fleshing out the British offer in citizens’ rights, indicating that EU citizens living in Britain could be given a window of time in which their family members will be able move to the UK after Brexit. The bill will be trickier, as Mrs May’s offer of €20bn strikes some in Brussels as ” peanuts“, but she will be reluctant to raise it.

The clock is ticking, as Monsieur Barnier likes to say, but the British aren’t the only side that needs to get a deal done. Austria’s outgoing chancellor Christian Kern, perhaps feeling demob-happy, issued a warning to his colleagues: “We have to speed this up as it is detrimental to the European economy.” European leaders are aware of this,  I write online, but trade will have to come onto the table soon if they want talks to motor along.

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