Brexit: Theresa May to make 11th hour plea to EU27 leaders on trade and transition

Catherine Neilan
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Back so soon? May will dine in Brussels for a second time this week (Source: Getty)

The Prime Minister will make an 11th hour plea to the leaders of the EU27 just hours before they decide whether Brexit negotiators can finally discuss trade and transition.

Theresa May will tomorrow night address her European counterparts at a dinner in Brussels - her second this week - where she will “encourage them to move the conversation along to consider the future partnership and implementation period, so that they’re ready to engage in that discussion as soon as possible” a senior government official said.

“The PM wants to see clear commitment to swift progress from both sides, for an ambitious plan to be set out for what should be achieved in the weeks ahead and particularly a shared urgency in terms of reaching an agreement on citizens rights,” he added.

But May is not expected to make any additional offers beyond her "bold and constructive" Florence speech.

Timed to coincide with the trip, the Prime Minister is publishing an open letter to the three million EU citizens living in the UK that will promise to make it as easy as possible for them to obtain settled status.

She will insist EU citizens are not “bargaining chips”, saying: “We want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”

In a message posted on May’s Facebook page, and sent direct to 100,000 EU nationals who have asked to receive updates on citizens’ rights, she will add: ‘We are in touching distance of agreement.”

Donald Tusk has today ruled out the chances that the European Council will agree "sufficient progress" had been made - but recommended the second best thing.

The President of the European Council today said he would use the meeting of the EU leaders to recommend they begin "internal preparations for talks on the transition and the future relationship".

Tusk, who has made no secret of his view that sufficient progress has not yet been made, added: "While progress is not sufficient, there is promising progress, especially following the speech by Prime Minister May in Florence."

Conservative MEP Syed Kamall told City A.M. “preparations” were already being made for the future trade agreement.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if positive noises are made about December,” he added.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin told City A.M. he was “not very hopeful," but insisted "we must hope”.

“[Brussels] are pushing against a very tight deadline,” he added, repeating the government's argument that the value of a transitional deal lessened as time passed.

“Barnier is getting more rattled as the balance and advantage begins to tip more in favour of a no deal from our point of view.”

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