favour and what conditions - if any - they would lay down. That discussion will only start at ambassador level on Wednesday.

Up until now, public EU statements about an extension have been part and parcel of negotiations.

Threats to force the departing UK to field candidates in the upcoming European parliamentary elections or to make the UK extend by a whacking 21 months were partly designed to put pressure on MPs and (it was hoped) to help focus minds on voting in favour of the prime minister's Brexit deal.

But that didn't work and by this stage of the Brexit process, Germany, France, Ireland and others have slightly differing priorities.

Not that you can speak of real rifts in the EU position (though Germany is so keen to keep the UK close, its politicians keep saying the government should take the time it needs to solve its political crisis, while France, for example, is impatient to get Brexit done and over with).

Terms and Conditions