Theresa May flew into Brussels today to a launch a 10-day offensive aimed at securing trade talks by Christmas.
The Prime Minister will go head-to-head with EU Council President Donald Tusk days after a secret summit with her ministers about hiking Britain’s offer on the divorce bill to £40billion.
As she arrived at the EU headquarters today Mrs May said Britain and Europe must ‘step forward together’ as she swerved questions about offering more cash.
Mrs May and Mr Tusk pair met briefly this morning before their private talks later. Mr Tusk is expected to demand up-front commitments about paying from Mrs May.
Rumours are swirling the PM could also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today on the sidelines of a security summit in Brussels.
The intense diplomatic push will continue until a crunch dinner with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on December 4 at which a draft agreement needs to be in place ahead of an EU leaders’ summit on December 14.
Prime Minister is going head-to-head with EU Council President Donald Tusk (pictured together in Brussels today) days after a secret summit with her ministers about hiking Britain’s offer on the divorce bil
Theresa May (pictured arriving in Brussels today) flew into Brussels today to a launch a 10-day offensive aimed at securing trade talks by Christmas
As she arrived at the EU headquarters today Mrs May said Britain and Europe must ‘step forward together’ as she swerved questions about offering more cash
The Telegraph said today that Brussels is demanding a ‘no strings attached’ promise Britain will pay more than £20billion agreed at the Florence speech.
Downing Street said this week ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ in a bid to make a £40billion offer contingent on a trade deal.
As she arrived in Brussels, Mrs May was asked by reporters if Britain was being ‘blackmailed’ by the EU.
She said: ‘I will be seeing President Tusk today, talking about the positive discussions and negotiations we are having, looking forward to the future and the deep and special partnership I want with the European Union.
‘The negotiations are continuing. What I am clear about is we must step forward together.
‘This is for both the UK and the European Union to move on to the next stage.’
Mr Juncker said yesterday that he was not yet in a position to say that sufficient progress had been made for a breakthrough at the summit.
The Commission president said he was ‘not crazy enough’ to be drawn on whether a £38 billion ‘divorce bill’ offer expected from the PM would be acceptable to the 27 remaining EU states.
But he hinted at progress as he said ‘the worst is behind us’.
Mrs May is also facing a demand from Irish premier Leo Varadkar for a written guarantee there will be no return to the ‘hard border’ of the past between Northern Ireland and the Republic as the price of his support for the second phase of the negotiations to begin.
jean Claude-Juncker, President of the European Commission (Pictured in Switzerland yesterday) said the ‘intense’ negotiation between Britain and the bloc had yielded progress
Speaking ahead of Mrs May’s talks with Mr Tusk, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman played down suggestions it was a meeting to set out the divorce bill.
‘I would not characterise it in that way,’ the spokesman said.
‘We saw from his comments at the end of the press conference in Gothenburg that he (Mr Tusk) was hoping to meet the PM this week.
‘They will be discussing progress towards the December council.
‘There are a number of issues which I’m sure they will want to discuss – the financial settlement, that will be one of them, also of course Northern Ireland and citizens’ rights.’