'Accelerate' - the word the Tories need

Theresa May, David Davis and Jean-Claude Juncker Image copyright EPA

Accelerate, accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.

OK, in theory, if I am driving a car at four miles per hour and I speed up to eight miles per hour, technically I am accelerating.

I may still be basically crawling along. I still may be late - very, very late - for my eventual destination. But, by the very action of pressing the pedal and going faster, I am actually speeding up.

If anyone accuses me of going nowhere, or slowing down - well, look at my speedometer. I am going faster and I have evidence that you are wrong!

That is why, in the next few days, don't be surprised if every Tory politician you see, hear, or read about is using that word (at least those loyal to the government) to claim that there is progress in the Brexit talks, just days after the chief negotiator on the EU side declared a deadlock.

Commitment wanted

As we've talked about before, Michel Barnier's choice of language last week didn't mean that nothing had happened or that there's been no movement at all.

But it made headlines, and all political negotiations of this ilk are in a sense a fight over words, too.

So tonight, the government, beset by its own rows about preparing for a deal, preparing for no deal, preparing to look like they know what they are doing, have a word - one word - that they can use as evidence that they are getting somewhere.

Look, even the arch Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to "accelerate" the talks, you can almost hear them say. Give the news cycle another 12 hours and I'd bet a fiver that will have happened.

But what Number 10 is really hoping for is an agreement on Friday at the summit that points to the way ahead - not just a speeding up, but a commitment to the next junction - to allow the talks to start moving onto the transition.

'Going nowhere fast?'

Despite the promise of acceleration, there is no sign yet tonight that either side is willing to budge far enough to inject some real vigour into the process.

There's no sign the UK is willing to put more cash on the table, yet. There's no sign that a majority of the other side are willing to expand the talks without that promise of more cash, yet.

The talks can accelerate all they like, but without one of the two sides being willing to budge to reach an accommodation, they could be going nowhere fast.

PS: There is precious little detail so far of what actually was discussed at the dinner, and no sign yet of the huge leak of info from the last dinner between this group.