Tusk says UK's Brexit philosophy of 'having a cake and eating it' is coming to an end

The European Council President has praised a more 'constructive and realistic' tone from the British government

Tusk says UK's Brexit philosophy of 'having a cake and eating it' is coming to an end

European Council President Donald Tusk delivers a statement at 10 Downing Street after meeting British Prime Minister Theresa May in London. Picture by: Frank Augstein/AP/Press Association Images

Donald Tusk has said Theresa May's Florence speech shows the idea of Britain "having a cake and eating it" on Brexit is coming to an end.

Speaking outside Downing Street following talks with the British Prime Minister, the European Council President said there is not yet sufficient progress to move the exit negotiations on to the next stage - the future trading relationship.

Mr Tusk welcomed what he characterised as a more 'constructive and realistic' tone from London, adding that "this shows that the philosophy of having a cake and eating it is finally coming [to an end] - at least I hope so".

"We will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress," Tusk said.

"The sides are working and we work hard at it. But if you ask me... I would say there's no sufficient progress yet, but we will work on it."

Mr Tusk described the Theresa May's address in the Italian city of Florence last week as "excellent".

He told Mrs May: "After your excellent speech in Florence I am much more optimistic. Of course, still we have to do something maybe more substantive."

Mrs May said the pair agreed that "things have moved on" in the Brexit process.

She stressed the need for a "good economic and security partnership" between the UK and EU once the divorce is finalised.

She said: "I set out in my speech last week in Florence the hope for working together to that deep and special partnership I think we want to create with the European Union once we leave the European Union.

"And the commitment we have to looking for a really good economic partnership.

"I think that by being creative in the ways that we approach these issues we can find solutions that work both for the remaining 27 but also for the UK and maintain that co-operation and partnership between the UK and the EU."

Mr Tusk discussed progress in the exit negotiations with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier before heading to London.

The fourth round of talks began in Brussels yesterday, with Brexit Secretary David Davis insisting there are "no excuses" for blocking progress.

Mr Davis said Mrs May's speech set out concrete proposals and a breakthrough was now needed.

But Mr Barnier insisted real progress on citizens' rights, the Irish border and the so-called "exit bill" was "essential" to move discussions to the next phase - the future trading relationship.

He said he was "keen and eager" to see how Mrs May's speech would be turned into a negotiating strategy.