The Government skipped a pre-planned meeting with the EU over Brexit just weeks before a crucial self-imposed deadline.
UK representatives were due to meet with EU chief Brexit negotiater Michel Barnier in Brussels this morning.
The key talking point was to be progress towards the March deadline set by David Davis for a transition deal.
But Barnier claimed the British side pulled out of the meeting because of what he diplomatically called a diary clash.
He told a press conference:
“We’d also planned an update by the UK on the future relationship. That update could not take place this morning because of diary constraints on the UK side. That’s the only meeting that has so far been cancelled.”
The Government says a re-arranged meeting is due to take place later today, but EU officials insist that is a meeting about a separate issue.
This comes after ministers were summoned to Chequers, the PM’s country residence, in a bid to hammer out a unified position on Brexit.
Journalists have made it plain that they believe that the British no-show at this morning’s meeting was due to Cabinet chaos:
Barnier reveals a planned update from the British side on plans for the future relationship (that we asked for) was scrapped 'because of diary constraints on the UK side'. Basically, the Cabinet couldn't agree anything worthwhile saying.
— Nick Gutteridge (@nick_gutteridge) February 9, 2018
UK couldn't update on its Brexit vision today because of "diary constraints", Barnier reveals. (Translation: Cabinet still needs to duke it out at Chequers)
— Asa Bennett (@asabenn) February 9, 2018
Michel Barnier, at press conference in Brussels, notes that the UK did not deliver the update on its #Brexit position that it said it would. He says this is because of a "diary conflict". But it's reportedly because May's cabinet couldn't agree.
— Dave Keating (@DaveKeating) February 9, 2018
The farce came as Barnier warned that a transition period “is not a given” because of “substantial” disagreements.
Carry on Brexit…