There was “no breakthrough” on Brexit during a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, EU council president Donald Tusk has said.
Tweeting from New York where they held a bilateral meeting, Mr Tusk wrote: “No breakthrough. No breakdown. No time to lose. #Brexit.”
It came after a spokeswoman for Mr Johnson said he had used the meeting to tell Mr Tusk that in order to reach a deal “we need movement and flexibility from the EU”.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) September 23, 2019
Their conversation came on the sidelines of the United Nations 2019 climate action summit, where Mr Johnson is set to announce environmental policies over two speeches.
Before flying out, the prime minister warned not to expect a “New York breakthrough” on Brexit.
He expected to meet with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel for a three-way discussion about subjects including Brexit and Iran, as he searches for a way of securing a deal before the end of next month.
Mr Johnson is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, on Tuesday.
Mr Johnson landed on Sunday night, ahead of the outcome of a Supreme Court case into whether his decision to prorogue, or send away, MPs for five weeks was lawful.
Speaking to reporters on the plane, the prime minister played down the chances of talks with Mr Tusk transforming Brexit negotiations.
“There will be discussions,” he said.
“I would caution you all not to think that this will be the moment – New York – it might be, but I don’t wish to elevate the belief that there will be a New York breakthrough. I’m not going to be pessimistic, we’ll be pushing ahead but there is still work to be done.”
Pressed on where the rejection of his proposals by Brussels on Friday had left him, Mr Johnson said: “I think that a great deal of progress has been made in the sense that, you know, think about when I first became PM, everyone was saying there was no chance of changing the existing agreement, and I think that nobody is saying that.”
He said the agreement on the table needed to change, even though Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, told Sky News this week that he would not accept the re-opening of the withdrawal agreement.