The EU has stepped up pressure on Britain to clarify what financial obligations it will honour on leaving the bloc in 2019, or risk delaying talks on future trade ties. As Kate King reports, it comes as new questions were raised at home over Britain's progress towards Brexit.
In the nearly 17 months since the UK voted out of the EU politicians have insisted that... (SOUNDBITE) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, SAYING: (July 11, 2016) "Brexit means Brexit" But according to the man who drafted article 50 - the mechanism which triggers Britain's exit - that isn't actually the case. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH CROSSBENCH PEER/AUTHOR OF ARTICLE 50 LORD, JOHN KERR, SAYING: "As far as the treaty is concerned, this country still has a free choice about whether to proceed. As new facts emerge, people are entitled to take a different view and there is nothing in Article 50 to stop them." While the decision may, in theory, be reversed. Damage to the confidence of consumers may not. Figures published on Friday showed British shops suffered their worst October in a decade, as they feel the pinch from a weaker pound and high inflation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF G10 FX STRATEGY, CIBC, SAYING: "The ramifications of the decision have meant that the market has repriced UK expectations of growth, I think it is very much up to the politicians to decide whether those negatives are at some stage or at any stage going to outweigh the positives of the leaving process." Though, that leaving process is very much underway - even if progress is slow. On Friday the bloc's gave Britain's Brexit negotiator a two week deadline to clarify how much it will pay to settle its obligations to the EU. Reiterating that until then, there'll be no discussions on trade. (SOUNDBITE) (French) EU CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR, MICHEL BARNIER, SAYING: "I'll say it again: it's an imperative condition to achieving sufficient progress in December. On this subject, I'll repeat that it's simply and only about settling the bill, just like in any separation." Yet if Lord Kerr is right - then just like any other divorce - Britain could learn to love again. But before the talks in Brussels May said she wanted the UK's exit date- 29th of March 2019- set in law, and warned MPs not to block it.