Brexit talks are reaching a crescendo as British Prime Minister Theresa May flies into Brussels to finalise a deal with the European Union.
She is under pressure to agree the details of Britain’s Brexit agreement done and dusted by the weekend so other EU leaders can sign off the package.
Meanwhile, politicians at home and in the EU are stressing the end game by highlighting concerns.
For instance Spain is keen to hive off Gibraltar to try to negotiate favoured terms over the British colony on Spanish soil.
But Spain has no veto on the Brexit deal and can make a noise but win little else from this stance.
Deadline stress from EU leaders
Everyone is stressing about the deadline, but Britain does not really have to rush into a decision based on an arbitrary timescale.
May could well gain some political points by playing hard ball at this point, explaining how pressure in Westminster leaves her unable to agree the deal as it stands.
Whether she is strong enough to do so remains to be seen.
May had a difficult few minutes in Parliament at Prime Minister’s Questions before departing for Brussels.
Clashing with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who focussed on comments by work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, who said MPs would prevent a no-deal Brexit, apparently putting her at odds with the May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” stance.
No deal better than bad deal
He asked: “Does the prime minister agree that there are no circumstances under which Britain would leave with no-deal?”
May replied “no” and said the alternative would “either be more uncertainty, more division” or in what looks like the emerging new emphasis from her government, “it could risk no Brexit at all”.
Corbyn said that “if the government can’t negotiate an alternative then it should make way for those who can and will”.
May rubbished his comments with the reply: “He is opposing a deal he hasn’t read, he’s promising a deal he can’t negotiate, he’s telling Leave voters one thing and Remain voters another – whatever he will do, I will act in the national interest.”