Prime Minister Theresa May made clear in a speech she delivered to parliament that she hoped her European Union partners would make proposals at a new round of talks opening the way to the next stage of negotiations, saying "the ball is in their court".
But just hours later, the Prime Minister rejected the Commission's stance, putting a heavy stress on the word "is" as she told MPs in the House of Commons: "As we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court".
European negotiators, going into the final Brexit talks before an EU summit later this month, will not be confident of securing a deal with a Prime Minister whose own future is so uncertain.
May, however, struck a confident tone during her speech on Monday, telling MPs: "I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong".
The EU is refusing to address issues relating to a future trading relationship with the United Kingdom until sufficient progress is made on the issues of citizens' rights, the Irish border and, perhaps most problematically, the UK's financial settlement.
With Brussels quietly preparing for a collapse in the talks and Britain getting ready for what May calls "every eventuality", some officials and business chiefs worry the country will crash out of the European Union without a deal.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May will say today (10 0ctober) that 'the ball is in the EU-27's court.
He added that the government wanted to see "the best deal I think in terms of trade, security, co-operation" but added: "Those contingency plans are well under way".
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She said Brexit talks needed to be focused on the long-term future relationship between the two after a limited implementation period. The statement is being trailed as an announcement by May that after the more placatory tone of her Florence speech, she now expects some give on the EU's side, saying "the ball is now in the EU's court".
Britain cannot make trade agreements with other countries during that time but the UK's terms for single market and customs union access will be the same, Mrs May said.
Unless the British government can find a way to stabilize her leadership and signal to Brussels that back in London the adults are running the show, then, I'm afraid, Britain's instability will continue for months to come.
The EU Parliament voted last week to block Brexit talks from moving onto discussions about Britain's future relationship.
Laying bare the impasse, Brexit Secretary David Davis did not attend the first day of the resumed talks, although he is expected to be in Brussels on Tuesday. The fifth round of talks is starting in Brussels on Monday.
In her statement, the Prime Minister suggested any Brexit agreement was a long time off and would come right down to the wire.
European leaders will decide at a European Council summit on 19-20 October whether this level has been reached.
Since losing her parliamentary majority in the June snap election, Mrs May has struggled to keep her ministers on message, most notably Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
But European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said last month that it would take miracles for enough progress to have been made before the leaders' meeting.