Theresa May said on Thursday she was on course to deliver Brexit and a new partnership with the European Union, shrugging off a parliamentary defeat that could weaken her hand as the decisive phase of talks begins.
The British prime minister spoke on arrival at an EU summit in Brussels where, over dinner, she will repeat her case for unlocking negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union to allow for a discussion of trade relations. May sees that as crucial to offering certainty for businesses.
The 27 other EU leaders are all but certain to approve the deal to move to second phase on Friday, after May has left, launching a new stage of talks that could be hampered by divisions at home and differences with the EU.
But after suffering a defeat in parliament over her Brexit blueprint, May faces yet another struggle to get legislation passed to sever ties with the bloc before Britain leaves in March 2019 — something Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel, said would not make "her life easier".
"I'm disappointed with the amendment," she told reporters as she arrived at the summit. "But the EU withdrawal bill is making good progress through the House of Commons and we're on course to deliver on Brexit."