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Tusk: UK has abandoned idea of having Brexit ‘cake and eating it’

Arriving in Downing Street for talks, Donald Tusk described Mrs May’s address in Italy last week as “excellent”.

The UK has abandoned the idea of having its Brexit “cake and eating it”, European Council president Donald Tusk has said.

Mr Tusk made the comments after Downing Street talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on Britain’s EU withdrawal.

Praising Mrs May’s speech in Florence last week in which the PM sought to map out the route to Brexit, Mr Tusk said Britain was now being more “realistic” in its approach.

He told reporters: “I feel cautiously optimistic about the constructive and more realistic tone in the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence and of our discussion today.

“This shows that the philosophy of having a cake and eating it, is finally at an end … at least I hope so. That’s good news.”

The reference was a clear swipe at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who claimed Britain could have its cake and eat it over Brexit.

Mr Tusk said that not enough progress had yet been made in the Brexit divorce talks to move on to trade negotiations.

Describing Brexit as an exercise in “damage control”, he said: “I feel now we will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress.

“The two sides are working and we will work hard at it.

“But if you ask me, and if today member states ask me, I would say there is no sufficient progress yet. But we will work.”

Theresa May holds talks with Donald Tusk (Jonathan Brady/PA)

After the talks a Downing Street spokesman said Mrs May and Mr Tusk had “welcomed the good progress” that has been made on citizens’ rights in the negotiations.

The spokesman said: “At the end of the meeting, the PM said her Florence speech had been intended to create momentum in the ongoing talks. She said it was important for EU negotiators to now respond in the same spirit.”

While posing for photographs with Mr Tusk at the beginning of the Downing Street meeting, Mrs May said the two leaders agreed that “things have moved on” in the Brexit process.

Theresa May greets Donald Tusk at 10 Downing Street (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The PM stressed the need for a “good economic and security partnership” between the UK and EU after withdrawal.

The Talks came after the fourth round of negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU began in Brussels on Monday.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has insisted there are “no excuses” for blocking progress to trade talks.

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