Monday night’s Brexit dinner was ‘constructive and friendly’, both sides have insisted. Yet it’s hard to tell what purpose the discussions involving the Prime Minister and Jean Claude-Junker actually served, says the Daily Telegraph. The ‘deadlock’ remains firmly in place, and ‘the best Mrs May managed to extract was that negotiations would “accelerate” in the coming months’. So what’s the hold-up? The answer lies with Brussels, says the Telegraph, which argues that ‘citizen’s rights could be sorted out tomorrow’ if the EU wanted to move things on. The ‘sequencing’ of talks – which gives the EU the justification to delay trade talks until firm agreement is made on Britain’s Brexit divorce bill – is another ‘blockage’, says the Telegraph. So whatever the EU says, ‘it is in the gift of the EU to unlock the process by showing greater flexibility’, according to the paper’s editorial and the longer things go on with no progress, Brexit talks will look more and more like a ‘matter of national honour’. ‘If Mrs May is simply being lined up for another humiliation at the EU council in Brussels on Friday,’ says the Telegraph, ‘she may want to ask herself whether it is worth going at all’.
Not so, says the Guardian, which suggests the ‘underlying problem’ for the Prime Minister is that the Brexit ‘fantasy of 2016’ is not turning into reality. The truth is, according to the paper’s editorial, that ‘the impact of Brexit on jobs, living standards and the economy is proving much more severe’ than the government warned people it would be. ‘Global Britain’ is a delusion cooked up by the Tory party’s obsessive anti-Europeans’, says the Guardian. And despite the claims otherwise, Britain’s relationship with the EU – and continued access to the single market – ‘is far more consequential than anything else on her agenda’. ‘The economic skies are darkening’, says the paper – making a good deal even more vital, and the ‘pretence that no deal is an acceptable outcome would be laughable if it were not so tragic’, according to the paper. The answer is for Theresa May to follow the advice of the OECD and ‘ lead Britain into ‘the closest economic relationship possible’ with the EU’. The alternative would be ‘politically terminal’ for the embattled PM, concludes the Guardian.
The Sun again uses its editorial to attack Philip Hammond, accusing the Chancellor of lunacy for his apparent Budget plans to ‘sting middle-aged pension savers’ in order to hand ‘tax cuts to those in their 20s and 30s’. It’s true, says the Sun, that young people ‘must get a better deal.’ But while it is good the Chancellor is finally being ‘bold’, this idea is ‘like leaping from a plane with no parachute’. ‘Punishing older workers…could be electoral suicide’, warns the Sun, which says the Tories are continuing to ignore the revolutionary approach they need to win over those under-40s. ‘Getting homes built rapidly’, could do just that, says the paper, suggesting that such a plan could offer much-needed ‘hope’. It would also be ‘a valid, sensible alternative to Corbyn’s beguiling fantasies’, concludes the Sun.