Key meeting for Theresa May as Brexit talks enter decisive phase

Mr Juncker said the meeting was

Mr Juncker said the meeting was “friendly and constructive”

In Germany, Stefanie Bolzen and Hannelore Crolly of the centre-right Die Welt say events have "taken a risky turn" for Mrs May, despite EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's insistence that the talks were "not a failure".

Dissent is spreading through parliament, with many convinced the prime minister will not be able to make a deal with Brussels before the European Commission meets on December 14. One of the key officials of the BEIS (Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) committee has even proclaimed that the nation's decision to exit from the European Union will not only affect the drug costs but will also impact the accessibility of newly developed medical products.

"The PM said intensive work had been taking place in recent weeks and the United Kingdom and European Commission were very close to getting agreement with only a small number of issues outstanding", the spokesman said.

The EU has had "enough time now to decide whether or not they are going to discuss trade with us, they need to get on with it and if they don't get on with it the closer we get to walking away with no deal", she said.

Sterling leapt higher against the Euro, Dollar and other major currencies on December 4 after markets believed Theresa May was going to Brussels to sign-off on the tricky issues of the settlement bill, Northern Irish border and citizens rights. Nadine Dorries, a member of Britain's ruling Conservative Party who supports Brexit, said May should tell European Union officials time is running out to move talks on to the next phase.

He added: "These discussions are moving in the right direction".

Tusk, the European Council President, was adamant Friday that the Ireland issue must be resolved before any post-Brexit trade discussions can move forward.

Just before the lunch, Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar by telephone.

May has found it difficult to come up with a formula that satisfies both European Union member Ireland, which wants to avoid creation of a "hard" border, and Northern Ireland's DUP party which says the British province must quit the European Union on the same terms as the rest of the UK. The other 27 have held a common front on making Britain pay for past commitments, but all have varying interests in a trade deal and so will want time to ensure the guidelines defend their own positions.

Ireland has said it is not looking to delay the Brexit process but wants written assurances in the form of a specific and detailed border plan. "Because, potentially, this is very bad news for Northern Ireland, if it happens".

"I hope that there is still an opportunity for the prime minister to claw back from what is being said to the media at the moment".

In Westminster, Brexit Minister Steve Baker and Mrs May's chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, are expected to update Tory MPs on Brexit negotiations in Parliament at 4pm, a senior party MP told the Press Association.

Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom thus far have been frustratingly slow.

Responding directly to questions about the report of agreement on regulatory alignment by Irish broadcaster RTE, he said: "RTE also reported this morning we were holding a Cabinet meeting and I missed that if it occurred".

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