EU leaders have told Theresa May that she can no longer delay spelling out what she wants from Brexit. In a sign of the exasperation felt at what is perceived as UK dithering, Donald Tusk, president of the European council, told journalists at the end-of-summit press conference.
There is a great deal of work ahead, and the most difficult tasks are still unresolved. If we want to reach a deal in October we need quick progress. This is the last call to lay the cards on the table.
EU leaders also set out their demand for more clarity from London in a four-paragraph statement on Brexit agreed very quickly on Friday morning, after May had left Brussels to return to London. (See 11.58am.) In truth, they were not expecting progress at this two-day summit, which was dominated by the debate on migration. But May is now under intense pressure to ensure that the white paper on Brexit due to be published within the next fortnight provides a basis for kickstarting negotiations on the future trade relationship.
Thatâs all from me for today.
Thanks for the comments.
Earlier, in my Danny Dyer post (see 3.16pm), I said that Theresa May does not believe Brexit will be good for the country. The Conservative pro-European Dominic Grieve is the guest on Nick Robinsonâs Political Thinking podcast this week and he makes exactly the same point.
And according to RTEâs Tony Connelly, the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar told journalists at the end of the summit that the Irish backstop could not be something that applied to the UK as a whole.
Varadkar also said the EU would not agree to let the UK remain effectively in the single market for goods but not for services.
And this is from my colleague Daniel Boffey.
According to the Telegraphâs Dia Chakravarty, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, did not rule out the idea of Brexit being delayed when asked about it at his end-of-summit press conference.
The Telegraphâs Europe editor, Peter Foster, has posted an excellent thread on Twitter about the Brexit state of play after this weekâs EU summit. It starts here.
Danny Dyerâs rant about David Cameron (see 12.41pm) has gone viral on social media. For the most part that is probably because people share his exasperation with Brexit, and enjoyed his withering assessment of our former prime minister (the second âtwatâ is generally agreed to be glorious).
But Dyer was also making a substantive argument; that, having called the EU referendum and lost it, it was wrong for Cameron to resign when he should stayed on as prime minister to sort things out.
Has Dyer got a point? Or is he being naive?
The conventional wisdom at the time, and probably still now, is that, having called the referendum and lost, Cameron had to go. That is what happened to Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, two years earlier when he lost the independence referendum. Before the EU referendum Cameron repeatedly said that he would not resign if leave won, but I donât think any of his colleagues, or any political journalists, believed him and at a 4am meeting in Downing Street on the night of the referendum Cameron told his close aides he would have to quit because he did not think staying on (the Dyer option) was plausible.
But counterfactuals are always worth exploring, and so what would have happened if he had announced that he was going to stay on as prime minister – perhaps just to oversee Brexit and to resign once the UK was out?
One of Cameronâs objections at the time was that he would have been overseeing a policy he did not believe in. But Theresa May does not believe Brexit will be good for the country either. When challenged on this, her default position is to say that this is what the country wants. And a majority of MPs are also voting through legislation that they donât believe will be in the countryâs best interests. Two years on from the referendum it has turned out (regrettably) that implementing policy without believing in it is easier than Cameron assumed.
Another assumption is that Conservative MPs would have forced Cameron out anyway. But it is often forgotten that on the night of the referendum 84 pro-Brexit Tory MPs signed an open letter saying Cameron should stay on as prime minister even if leave won. (It was probably the most short-lived and unsuccessful campaign ever mounted by Conservative backbenchers.) And, remember, in the parliamentary Conservative party the pro-Brexit MPs were in a minority. A majority voted remain, like Cameron. If Cameron had tried to stay on, he would undoubtedly have been a lame duck. But MPs with leadership ambitions like serving under lame duck PMs (they have been doing it for the last year anyway), and a two or three-year extension of the Cameron premiership might have suited those who wanted to see a Brexiter succeed him before the next election.
And another argument is that, if Cameron had tried to have stayed on, he would have had zero negotiating credibility with Brussels. But, looking at the current state of negotiations, does anyone really think he would have less influence with his EU partners than Theresa May?
If Cameron had tried to remain as PM, we know what he would have done. He said so in the Commons on the Monday after the result. âI think it is in all our interests, whatever the eventual decision, to make sure we are as close as possible economically to our friends and partners in the European Union,â he told MPs. In this alternative reality, he would now be negotiating a very soft Brexit, Norway-style Brexit. Jacob Rees-Mogg would hate it, but the Moggites are in a minority amongst Tory MPs and a Cameron Brexit is closer to what the Commons as a whole wants than the hard Brexit May originally proposed.
Could all this ever have happened? Weâll never know, and it still seems a unlikely. But thinking about it now, it seems a lot less impossible than we all thought on the morning of 24 June 2016. I think Dyerâs got a point.
But there is also some Brexit polling, and these figures are striking. They suggest that confidence that Theresa May will get a good deal is at its lowest since article 50 was triggered. Those not confident that May will get a good deal outnumber those who are confident about it by more than two to one.
The Tusk/Juncker/Borissov press conference is now over. There were no questions about Brexit, and only a brief mention of it in the opening statements, from Tusk. (See 2.09pm.)
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has also been holding a press conference. Here are some of the highlights. The tweets are from the Economistâs Tom Nuttall and the BBCâs Katya Adler.
Asked about relations with President Trump, Juncker says he is going to Washington soon. He mentions his âfriend Donaldâ. But he says he does not like Trumpâs attempts to divide Europe.
There is fresh evidence of that in the Washington Post today.
Tusk says he does not want to âspoil the good atmosphereâ by saying any more.
The opening statements are over. Tusk, Juncker and Boyko Borissov, the Bulgarian prime minister (who is also on the panel – the Bulgarians have the presidency of the EU) are now taking questions.
The first question is about the achievements of the Bulgarian presidency. Juncker says what was good about them was that they accepted the commissionâs proposals.