Opinion divided on whether Brexit talks will accelerate after May’s Brussels dinner

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Reaction to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s working dinner in Brussels Monday focused on an official after-dinner statement suggesting May had won a commitment to “accelerate” talks about Britain leaving the European Union (EU).

May and the Brexit Secretary David Davis dined with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

While some political commentators were hailing the talks as a breakthrough ahead of a crucial summit later this week of the 27 EU member states, others made a different interpretation of the official communique by May and Juncker.

May’s hopes of breaking a deadlock in Brexit talks appeared to be given a boost after she and Juncker agreed to “accelerate” negotiations, said the pro-leave Daily Telegraph.

The rival broadsheet Guardian, in its commentary, took a different view. It said May’s last-ditch attempt to persuade European leaders to open talks on a transition period look doomed to fail.

“Downing Street appeared to rule out fresh concessions on Britain’s EU divorce bill while Brussels hardened its approach days, just away from then crunch summit,” added the Guardian.

The Guardian report said a joint statement from Juncker and May following their dinner gave no indication of any movement in the British government’s favor.

Before leaving London for the dinner engagement in Belgium, May spoke Monday by telephone to the French President Emmanuel Macron, and a day earlier, with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The phone calls to the European mainland were seen by political observers as part of May’s aim to contact as many European leaders as possible ahead of the key EU summit.

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