At the end of a brief sixth round of Brexit talks last week, the EU27 set Britain a tight two-week deadline to provide vital further clarification on the financial commitments it is willing to honour as part of the divorce deal, the guardian reports.
The Brexit secretary, David Davis, asked for more imagination and flexibility in a bid to move the talks on from the key article 50 divorce issues to future relations, as the British government wants, but the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, was not budging.
Member states will make the decision at a summit on 14 and 15 December and trade talks will be postponed unless there is “real and sincere progress” on the exit bill – estimated at about €60bn (£53bn) – the Irish border and citizens’ rights, he said.
Those steps must be made within the next fortnight to allow the summit’s draft conclusions to be circulated and approved in good time, although given the British government’s instability and division many on the continent doubt this is possible.
In a major concession to pro-EU backbenchers and in an implicit acknowledgement of its weakness, the government promised on Monday that MPs and peers will be able to scrutinise, debate and vote on a final deal through an act of parliament.
The move was not a huge surprise, since ministers faced defeat in parliament on precisely this “meaningful vote” question, and Davis’s promise was attacked on both sides by MPs who noted it would give them no say in the event of there not being a deal and was in any case meaningless without a pledge to hold the vote before Brexit day.