The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the latest Brexit talks have made some progress but more work is needed before he can green-light the second phase of the negotiations.
Here’s five questions you might be asking …
1. Where do both sides stand on the Irish border?
Both sides agree they will need to find “specific solutions” if they are to avoid a return to the “hard border” of the past. How that can be achieved if the UK leaves the single market and the customs union – as Theresa May has said it will – remains unclear, however.
Brexit Secretary David Davis flatly rejected the idea of a special customs arrangement between Northern Ireland and the Republic saying there can be no “new border inside our United Kingdom”.
2. And the other main issues?
On citizens’ rights, Mr Barnier has said the UK side offered some “useful clarifications” on its proposal to grant “settled status” to EU nationals who want to carry on living in Britain. However, the EU is still pressing for a role for the European Court of Justice in enforcing those rights – something the UK is strongly resisting.
3. And the divorce bill?
Potentially the most difficult issue of all. Mr Davis said they had made “substantial technical progress” in the latest talks. However, Mr Barnier said the EU still needed greater clarity from the the British over what exactly Mrs May meant when she said Britain would honour its financial obligations.
4. How long have they got to sort this out?
Just two weeks, according to Mr Barnier. At least when it comes to the money. He indicated that unless there was movement over the next fortnight he would be unable to recommend they move to the second phase of negotiations – including a new free trade deal – when EU leaders meet in Brussels in December.
5. What would happen then?
Expect a clamour from hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative Party for Mrs May to walk away from the negotiations altogether.