DONALD Tusk issued a stern warning to the UK that he has “no grounds for optimism” over a Brexit deal today as he prepared to meet Theresa May and EU leaders in Brussels.

The European Council president said the Prime Minister must come forward with concrete proposals to solve the deadlock and that “goodwill” will not be enough to secure a deal.

He indicated yesterday that May’s Commons statement on Monday and discussions he held with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday morning gave him little hope.

“The report on the state of the negotiations that I got from Michel Barnier today as well as yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons yesterday give me no grounds for optimism before tomorrow’s European Council on Brexit,” he said.

“As I see it, the only source of hope for a deal for now is the goodwill and determination on both sides. However, for a breakthrough to take place, besides goodwill we need new facts.

“Tomorrow I am going to ask Prime Minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse.

“Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible.”

The National:

John Major gave his take on Brexit during a speech at the Foreign Office

Tusk's comments came as former UK prime minister John Major called Brexit “a colossal misjudgment” that could “break-up” the Union.

During a speech at the Foreign Office yesterday, he said Brexit "will damage our national and personal wealth and may seriously hamper our future security. It may even, over time, break-up our United Kingdom. It will most definitely limit the prospects of our young”.

The next meeting between UK and EU negotiators had been billed as “the moment of truth”, but now seems certain to pass without a deal on the UK’s withdrawal.

May will address the 27 EU leaders before the summit, with migration, internal security and foreign policy issues on the agenda.

After her presentation the Prime Minister will leave the meeting and over a working dinner the EU leaders will discuss how to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit next March.

Reports from Brussels suggested senior EU officials were casting doubt on the prospect of a special Brexit summit being declared for November if there is no movement on the issue of the Irish border.

In Luxembourg, foreign ministers from 27 EU states received a briefing from Barnier with the chief negotiator saying “more time” was needed to find an agreement. But there was also a growing sense of impatience among the ministers towards the UK’s position yesterday.

Germany’s Europe minister, Michael Roth, said Berlin’s message to May was: “Take responsibility and be constructive.” Belgium’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, put the chances of the UK crashing out without a deal at “50/50”.

The National:

Prime Minister Theresa May has appealed for unity in her Cabinet

Talks have reached an impasse chiefly over the Irish border. The EU wants a “backstop” agreement to avoid a hard border by keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union. May has countered by offering to keep the whole UK in a customs union, but only for a temporary period – an unacceptable proposal for the EU.

In London, she won Cabinet support after she insisted it would not be possible for her or any other Prime Minister to sign up to an agreement which “created a customs border down the Irish Sea”; and that any agreement “must ensure the UK is not kept indefinitely in a backstop arrangement against its will”.

The three-hour meeting came a day after eight Brexit-supporting ministers took the unusual step of meeting over pizzas in the office of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom to discuss their concerns about the PM’s stance.

Despite intense speculation over a possible walkout, no minister at Cabinet indicated they might consider resigning from the Government over Brexit while two of those present at the “pizza summit” played down suggestions of rebellion.

May issued a plea for unity as she reasserted her determination a Brexit that would “protect jobs and security and preserve the Union”.

Her spokesman told reporters: “The Cabinet strongly supported her on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Union and agreed that we must ensure we cannot be kept in a backstop arrangement indefinitely.”