Donald Tusk has called David Davis’ comments on Brexit an example of “English humour” and given him an ultimatum to move on the divorce bill and the Irish border.
He set a deadline of the start of December for Britain to make further movement on its Brexit divorce bill and the future of the currently open border between Northern Ireland.
When asked whether he agreed with Davis that the EU had not compromised enough during the negotiations, Tusk said: “I appreciate Mr Davis’s English sense of humour.”
Speaking after talks with Theresa May at a summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, The European Council president said the EU completed the work necessary to green light talks on trade and transition to begin at the next European Council summit in Brussels on December 14-15.
But he said that “much more progress” was needed from the UK on two of the three key issues in withdrawal talks in order to break the deadlock which has prevented the move to the second phase of negotiations which the UK is seeking.
“We will be ready to move on to the second phase already in December, but in order to do that we need to see more progress from the UK side,” Tusk said.
“While good progress on citizens’ rights is being made, we need to see much more progress on Ireland and on the financial settlement.”
He said he had told May that “this progress needs to happen at the beginning of December at the latest”.
Irish taosiach Leo Varadkar, who is also at the European social summit, met May and said afterwards of the Irish border: “I can’t say in any honesty that it’s close – on the Irish issue or on the financial settlement.”
As she left the summit, May told reporters: “We are clear and I am clear that what we need to do is move forwards together and that’s how we can ensure that we are going to get the best deal for the UK and for the EU.”