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Progress in Brexit negotiations is ‘encouraging’ and next phase of talks could begin in December - Angela Merkel

Agnes Chambre

3 min read

Theresa May has been handed a boost after Angela Merkel suggested Brexit trade talks could begin in December.

The EU has insisted talks on a future trade deal between Britain and the bloc cannot commence until “sufficient progress” has been made on the so-called ‘divorce bill’ and EU citizens rights.

Today, Ms Merkel said although progress is not yet “sufficient to enter the second phase", it is “encouraging”.

She added: “We will continue the talks with a view to reaching the second phase in December."

But the President of the European Council Donald Tusk said Britain and the EU will have to work "really hard" to move on to phase two of negotiations in December. 

The comments come as EU leaders gathered in Brussels to examine the progress made so far. 

Mr Tusk said: "I don’t expect any kind of breakthrough ...

"We have to work really hard between October and December to finalise this so-called first phase."

The EU 27 are expected to rebuff Mrs May in her quest to move the Brexit negotiations onto discussions over trade later today.

The Guardian reported earlier that the EU leaders are unlikely to amend a draft conclusion saying there has been insufficient progress for the talks to progress when they meet for the European Council summit tonight.

The Prime Minister said as she arrived in Brussels earlier today: "I set out a few weeks ago in Florence a very bold and ambitious agenda and vision for our future partnership between the EU and the UK.

"At the heart of that remains cooperation on the key issues and dealing with the shared challenges that we face.

"We'll also be looking at the concrete progress that has been made in our exit negotiations and setting out ambitious plans for the weeks ahead. I particularly, for example, want to see an urgency in reaching an agreement on citizens' rights."

Earlier the Prime Minister told EU citizens living in the UK they can stay after Brexit as she reveals a deal on the controversial issue is within “touching distance”.


Elsewhere, Boris Johnson has said the UK will do “very well” if it crashes out of the EU without a deal. 

The Foreign Secretary said he believes Britain will secure a deal but it must prepare for every eventuality and it would “come through [Brexit] very well whatever happens”. 

He told reporters after meeting Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray Caso: “I think that we will get a deal and it will be a great deal and a great Brexit but with any negotiation you’ve got to be prepared to walk away.
“And we are going to be prepared to do that and, as Luis has said, I think we’ll do fine but we’ll also be able to develop our relations with Mexico and that’s very exciting as well.

When asked what we happened if the UK left the EU without a deal, he said: “We have to prepare for every eventuality, and as our esteemed guest Luis Videgaray has said, we will come through it very well whatever happens.”

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