Germany has told Theresa May to “take responsibility” for Brexit talks stalling, as EU leaders prepare to gather for one of the last chances to approve a deal.
The country’s foreign minister Michael Roth said it was braced for “the worst” and that “we would not be preparing so hard for ‘no deal’ if the outlook was more optimistic”.
He added the EU had “gone a long way” towards the UK’s position and been left with “limited room to manoeuvre” on the backstop plan to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Austria’s Europe minister also said there was “not enough” budging from the UK for a “compromise”.
While the European Council admitted that “clearly we are not in the place we wanted to be”.
Sky News is calling for an Independent Leaders’ Commission to oversee and organise election debates.
It comes a day before a major summit of EU leaders – the second last chance for them to sign off a breakthrough Brexit deal before the end of 2018.
The next scheduled meeting this year is mid-December. There is a chance of a special summit being arranged for November, but a senior EU official said that was “not a given”.
Timing is a particularly contentious issue domestically, as MPs complain they would not have long enough to scrutinise the final deal and try to send the government back to negotiate a better one if it rejects it.
Mrs May will take the floor in front of other leaders on Wednesday to sell her latest proposals, but then have to leave as they head to dinner and discusses how to proceed.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested yesterday no agreement would be reached by then, saying “one or two very difficult outstanding issues” remain.
“I think we can get there,” he said. “Whether we do this week or not, who knows?”
Cabinet ministers are assembled in Downing Street this morning as the prime minister faces a cabinet meeting, with Brexit the main item on the agenda.