Brexit minister David Davis accused the European Union on Tuesday of holding up divorce negotiations to get Britain to pay more money on its withdrawal from the bloc.
“They’re using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us — it’s obvious to anybody,” Davis told the House of Commons.
“And that will take some time, but we will get there in time, I’m quite sure, to get a decent outcome for everybody.”
He warned however that the two sides were “reaching the limits of what we can achieve” in the first stage of Brexit negotiations, which are focusing on the financial settlement, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border.
He urged EU leaders meeting later this week to “recognise the progress made” and give their chief negotiator Michel Barnier a mandate to move on to Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.
“We must be able to talk about the future. We all have to recognise that we’re reaching the limits of what we can achieve without consideration of the future relationship,” Davis told members of parliament.
He added: “At the European Council later this week, I hope the leaders of the 27 will recognise the progress made and provide Michel Barnier with a mandate to build on the momentum and spirit of cooperation we now have.”
Davis and Prime Minister Theresa May travelled to Brussels on Monday evening for dinner with Barnier and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
In a joint statement issued afterwards, May and Juncker said they agreed to “accelerate” efforts for a deal.
May’s spokesman said Tuesday that the meeting was “productive, it was a friendly discussion” and the pair “agreed on the need to make swift progress”.
For his part Barnier said Tuesday he was ready to intensify talks with London but warned “it takes two to accelerate”, adding that the two sides still had “a lot of work to do.”
During the summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, EU leaders are due to decide if “sufficient progress” has been made in divorce talks to move the discussions onto the future trading relationship.
They are widely expected to postpone their decision to December as the talks are deadlocked, particularly over the question of money.
Davis said progress was being made on guaranteeing the rights of around three million EU citizens living in Britain.
But he warned that specific financial commitments “can only come later”, while on Ireland, talks had progressed “possibly as much as we can”.
Davis denied his government was talking up the prospect of leaving the EU in 2019 without a deal in place.
While repeating that Britain was preparing for all eventualities, he said: “We are seeking to get a deal. That is by far and away the best option.”