Please see below for today’s update on key Brexit news items:

  • EU countries have toughened their stance on Brexit, making clear that talks on a future EU-UK relationship will not begin until March and insisting Britain will stay fully covered by EU rules during a transition — while losing its voice within regulatory agencies — after it leaves the bloc in 2019. Senior national officials have changed draft guidelines on the next phase of talks so they no longer suggest that “preliminary and preparatory” discussions on trade can begin early next year. Theresa May’s government has promised an ambitious and far-reaching trade deal as the final goal of the Brexit talks, although the EU says a formal accord will have to wait until the UK leaves the bloc and that only a more general “political declaration” will be possible beforehand. (Financial Times)
  • Conservative MPs believe they have the numbers to defeat Theresa May’s government on Wednesday and secure a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal, in a move that would represent the first major rebellion over the EU withdrawal bill. Several politicians told the Guardian they were ready to swing behind the demands of Dominic Grieve in a critical vote on Wednesday evening, unless ministers take last-minute steps to amend the legislation themselves. (The Guardian)
  • Donald Tusk urged EU leaders to show unity as they try to negotiate what the future relationship will look like and to set up transitional arrangements. The EU is set to agree this week that enough progress has been made so far to move on from the first phase of talks. The UK has been told not to “backtrack” on last week’s divorce deal. The comment from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier came after UK Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested the divorce agreement unveiled by Theresa May amounted to a “statement of intent” rather than a binding agreement. Mr Davis – the UK’s Brexit secretary – said he was quoted out of context. But European Parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the “unacceptable remarks” would harm “good faith” in the process. (BBC)
  • MEPs have called on Theresa May to restore trust by rebuking David Davis over “unacceptable” comments that hardened EU demands in Brexit negotiations. In a highly unusual step, the European parliament will name the Brexit secretary tomorrow as a threat to continuing negotiations. It illustrates the depth of anger at his comment on Sunday that the phase one withdrawal agreement was a “statement of intent”. A resolution to be voted on tomorrow, tabled by all the parliament’s main political groups, says: “Comments like those made by David Davis calling the outcome of phase one of the negotiations a mere ‘statement of intent’ risk to undermine the good faith that has been built during the negotiations. (The Times)