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Theresa May admitted Brexit negotiations have hit “difficulty” as she urged EU leaders to clear the way for a deal she can sell to British voters.
The Prime Minister made the concession for the first time at a working dinner with the heads of the remaining 27 EU states in Brussels.
She said that before her key speech in Florence two weeks ago she had “recognised the difficulty the process was in”.
I took stock, listened to what the people in the UK were saying, and what my friends and partners in Europe were saying, and I made a step forward,” she said.
Mrs May told leaders they face a "clear and urgent imperative" to give new impetus to stalled negotiations if they are to get an outcome which is acceptable to both the British public and their own people.
The EU27 will declare on Friday that insufficient progress has been made in withdrawal negotiations for trade talks to begin as Britain wants, with several leaders making clear they want more "clarity" about how much the UK is willing to pay in its Brexit "divorce bill".
But they are expected to offer Mrs May a glimmer of hope by agreeing to start internal "scoping" work on their trade stance ahead of a possible green-light for the second phase of negotiations, dealing with trade and the transition to Brexit, at their next gathering on December 14-15.

German chancellor Angela Merkel gave the PM a Brexit boost by indicating there were "encouraging" signs that the EU might be able to "take the work forward and then reach the start of the second phase in December".
However, Mrs Merkel told reporters that while Mrs May is making more of an effort with EU partners toward a Brexit deal, it is still "not enough."
But, the German chancellor also stressed progress has been made, saying, "despite what the British press says, this is a process that is moving ahead step by step".
Mrs Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron made a very public show of support for the Prime Minister, engaging her in prolonged conversation, characterised by a senior British source as "very constructive and friendly", on the way into the European Council summit.
The scenes made a strong contrast with last December, when the PM appeared isolated with no-one to talk to as the leaders gathered round the table.
Addressing her fellow leaders over dinner, Mrs May left no doubt that she needs their help to deliver a deal that is acceptable to British voters.
"There is increasingly a sense that we must work together to get to an outcome we can stand behind and defend to our people," she said.
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said: "Progress so far has not been satisfactory.
"We heard the tone of the speech by Mrs May, but I am still waiting to see the tone of that speech, the more flexible approach, transformed into practical deeds."


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