• Brussels rebuffs idea of escalating Brexit talks to leaders’ summit: European officials have poured cold water on hopes that Theresa May could negotiate Brexit with other EU leaders in September to break the deadlock over Britain’s departure. Diplomatic sources have rejected suggestions that May could hold direct talks on Brexit with the 27 other EU heads of state and government at a summit in Salzburg next month. Brexit talks are due to resume in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, the start of a new intense phase of negotiations, with the aim of reaching a deal in the autumn. Since the referendum, the EU has insisted that all formal talks are led by the chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. May is allowed to update EU leaders on her plans at quarterly EU summits but is not in the room for discussions. Officials expect this approach to be continued at Salzburg, an informal summit on 20 September officially dedicated to migration. The meeting has been organised by Austria, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, but it will be for the European council president, Donald Tusk, to decide whether to add Brexit to the agenda. (The Guardian)
  • Hunt warns of sharp fall in pound on a no-deal Brexit: The UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that a “no deal” Brexit could lead to a sharp fall in sterling as he tried to rally European support for the UK’s plan for leaving the EU. Asked about market reaction, particularly a fall in the currency, if Britain and the EU did not reach a deal by March 2019, Mr Hunt said at a press conference in Riga, the Latvian capital, “of course there will be significant short-term impact”. He separately said that Britain would undergo a “choppy and difficult period” in the coming months, regardless of whether negotiations were successful. The UK is seeking to pressure the EU into compromising on Brexit with just two months remaining before the scheduled completion of divorce talks. In a bid to sell the so-called Chequers plan, Mr Hunt is on a three-day trip to Finland, Latvia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, officials from the UK and the EU will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss outstanding issues, including the Irish border. (Financial Times)
  • Chances of UK leaving EU with a deal only ’50:50′, says Latvian foreign minister: The chances of the UK securing a Brexit deal before it leaves the European Union in March are only 50:50, Latvia’s foreign minister has said ahead of talks with Jeremy Hunt. Edgars Rinkēvičs said there was a “very considerable risk” that, with time rapidly running out, Britain could crash out of the bloc without a withdrawal agreement. He will meet Mr Hunt, the foreign secretary, in the Latvian capital Riga today, with Brexit high on the agenda. Mr Hunt’s visit is part of a three day trip that will also take in Denmark and the Netherlands. The talks form part of a concerted effort by UK ministers to convince their European counterparts to support Theresa May’s Chequers plan, which has already been dismissed by the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. (Independent)