EU leaders applaud Theresa May as they prepare to give green light to Brexit trade talks
European leaders will today give the green light for Brexit talks to move onto the next phase - after Theresa May told them it was "in the best interests" of Britain and the EU.
The Prime Minister was applauded by her 27 colleagues at a dinner in Brussels last night before returning to the UK.
Addressing her fellow leaders at an EU Council summit, Mrs May said the Government "makes no secret of wanting to move on to the next phase and to approaching it with ambition and creativity".
She added: "I believe this is in the best interests of the UK and the European Union. A particular priority should be agreement on the implementation period so that we can bring greater certainty to businesses in the UK and across the 27."
This morning's meeting of the EU27 is a formality after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced a week ago that "sufficient progress" had been made in the talks so far to allow them to move on to negotiations over Britain's future relationship with the bloc.
The Brussels summit came against the backdrop of a fresh blow for the Prime Minister after the Government suffered an embarrassing defeat on its flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.
MPs voted 309-305 to back a rebel Tory amendment demanding that Parliament be given a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.
Arriving at the summit yesterday, Mrs May tried to play down the significance of the result.
She said: "Just look at the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill so far, as I say it has been making good progress through the House of Commons.
“We have actually had 36 votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill and we have won 35 of those votes, with an average majority of 22. So, the bill is making good progress.
“We are on course to deliver Brexit, we are on course to deliver on the vote of the British people."
The EU has set a three-month deadline for Britain to set out what it hopes to achieve from a trade deal.
But The Sun reports that Mrs May has been forced to postpone a Cabinet meeting aimed at finalising the "end state" the UK is seeking because of splits among her top team.