Theresa May has insisted that the UK made "important progress" in the latest round of Brexit negotiations, despite a damaging leaked account of her private meeting with a leading EU politician appearing in a German newspaper.
The prime minister told the House of Commons she hoped there would soon be a deal guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, while insisting there would be no substantial border checks on Northern Ireland's border with the Republic of Ireland.
But the statement was overshadowed by an anonymous briefing given to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by an unknown individual that suggested May had been "tormented" and "despondent" in a recent private dinner with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
Juncker and his team later denied any involvement in the briefing, while the prime minister said she was confident progress was being made.
"I believe that by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, we can and will deliver the best possible outcome that works for all our people," the prime minister said. "Of course we are preparing for every eventuality to ensure we leave in a smooth and orderly way.
"But I am confident that we will be able to negotiate a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and our friends in the European Union."
The EU has stuck to its commitment that talks on a post-Brexit trade deal will not begin until the UK has settled the terms of its exit from the EU – especially the cost.
At last week's EU summit, the leaders of other European countries agreed that the UK had not made "sufficient" progress on this aspect.
Jeremy Corbyn said May's statement was "Groundhog Day" and that she had offered nothing substantial.
"Only Labour can negotiate a Brexit and deliver an economy that puts jobs and living standards first," he said.
In response to questions from MPs, May said EU countries would eventually agree a deal as it is in their own interests.
"I'm confident that we are going to get a good deal," she said, "precisely because getting a good deal is not just in our interests, it's in the interests of the EU27 [countries] of the remaining European Union. That's we're working for, and that's what our effort is going into."
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at email@example.com.
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