The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has cautioned that the talks on the UK leaving the bloc will not shift to the next stage if London fails to arrive at a consensus on a text about the relevant deal in the next 48 hours.
He said that if London and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) manage to resolve the issue of a hard border on Ireland, a EU gathering on Brexit will take place on Friday evening.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has, meanwhile, made it plain that the £45bn ($60bn) Brexit "divorce bill" will be paid even if London and Brussels fail to strike a bilateral trade deal, a statement that flew in the face of Hammond's deputy Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss.
Hammond also admitted that the Cabinet has not agreed — or even discussed — what it hopes to achieve for the Brexit 'end state', according to The Independent.
"Logically that will happen once we have confirmation that we have reached “sufficient progress” and are going to begin the phase two process with the European Union," he said.
His statement came shortly after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the European Commission is poised to continue Brexit negotiations this week even though Brussels and the United Kingdom have failed to reach an agreement on the Brexit talks.
European Council President Donald Tusk, for his part, said he was "encouraged" by his talks with the Irish Prime Minister on progress concerning Ireland-related Brexit issues; Tusk added that the Brexit talks were getting closer to entering their second stage
The Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, which kicked off on June 19, are expected to wrap up before the end of March 2019. In a referendum on June 23, 2016, about 51.9 percent of British said "yes" to their country leaving the bloc.