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Donald Tusk in Boris Johnson jibe as he says UK 'cake and eat it' approach to Brexit is over

Donald Tusk in Boris Johnson jibe as he says UK 'cake and eat it' approach to Brexit is over

Agnes Chambre

3 min read

Donald Tusk has taken a swipe at Boris Johnson as he said Britain’s attempt to have a "cake and eat it" approach to Brexit had come to an end.

The European Council president also warned that "sufficient progress" had still not been made in the negotiations to allow trade talks to begin next month.

Mr Tusk was speaking after meeting Theresa May in Downing Street, four days after her speech in Florence which was aimed at kickstarting the stalled discussions.

In it, the Prime Minister said she was looking for a post-Brexit transition deal of around two years, during which Britain would continue paying into the EU budget in return for access to the single market.

Speaking last year, Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson said the UK's policy on Brexit was "having our cake and eating it".

But outside Downing Street today, Mr Tusk said: “I feel cautiously optimistic about the constructive and moralistic tone in the Prime Minister's speech in Florence and of our discussion today.

“This shows the philosophy of having a cake and eating is finally coming to an end,

"But of course no one will ever tell me that Brexit is a good thing because as I have always said, in fact, Brexit is only about damage control.

"And I didn't change my opinion. I feel now we will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress.

"The two sides are working and we will work hard at it. But if you ask me and if today member states ask me, I would say there is no sufficient progress yet. But we will work on it."

Speaking ahead of the crunch talks today, Mrs May said things had “moved on” following her speech.

“I set out in my speech last week in Florence the hope for working together to that deep and special partnership I think we want to create with the European Union once we leave the European Union,” she said.

"And the commitment we have to looking for a really good economic partnership.

"I think that by being creative in the ways that we approach these issues we can find solutions that work both for the remaining 27 but also for the UK and maintain that cooperation and partnership between the UK and the EU."

Today's meeting comes ahead of next month’s decision by the Council on whether enough progress has been made on the key areas of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and divorce bill.

Earlier this week, Brexit Secretary David Davis began the fourth round of negotiations in Brussels with opposite number Michel Barnier.

Europe’s chief negotiator said the Government needs to provide more “clarity” on its plans.

“We do not need to remind ourselves that we are six months into the process. We are getting closer to the UK’s withdrawal and I think this moment should be a moment of clarity,” he said.

Mr Davis hit back however, saying that Mrs May had shown the “leadership and flexibility needed to make a success of these negotiations”.

Read the most recent article written by Agnes Chambre - Confusion among Labour's top team as senior figures disagree over second EU referendum