Now little more than three months remain before a final deadline on a "crash-out" no-deal Brexit.
Sir Mark Sedwill, the acting Cabinet Secretary, took the unusual step of writing to the newspaper earlier this week to defend Mr Robbins, who is widely mistrusted by Brexiteers who believe he wants to keep the United Kingdom in a close orbit around the EU.
Should such an agreement not be reached, there are likely to be political and economic consequences for both the United Kingdom and the EU.
Brussels diplomats pointed out that this meeting had been billed as a decisive meeting where a draft deal might be tabled and tentatively approved.
The LBC presenter and former Ukip leader was fuming that the Prime Minister may agree to extend the transition period beyond 2020. It is understood that the meeting was "cordial and positive".
In an open letter Thursday to May, leading Brexiteers accused the European Union of "bullying" and said the border issue was being used as "a trap" by the bloc.
Because her chief whip Julian Smith presumably has advised her that if she were to adopt the additional year of what the Brexiters see as pure vassalage - without simultaneously scrapping the backstop and Chequers - there would be (in the words of one) "the mother of all explosions".
"Many Conservative MPs (lawmakers) are making clear to the government that we won't support legislation seeking to prolong transition and large payments for no good reason", said John Redwood, a Conservative Brexit supporter.
Following presentations by Barnier and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, 12 leaders made interventions over the dinner.
"We understand the logic for some of an extension to the implementation period, but for fishing it would make no sense whatsoever to force the industry to operate under the Common Fisheries Policy beyond 2020", said the SFF.
The so-called "backstop" will apply if there is no proper EU-UK trade deal post Brexit.
At present the two sides are proposing that Britain remains inside the European Union single market and is still bound by its rules from the time it leaves the bloc in March until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.
SoftBank's deep ties with Saudi Arabia are making investors nervous
But rather than a dissident, he saw himself as a patriot "using his pen for the good of his country", she said. Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied having anything to do with the disappearance.
May also faces a rebellion from her parliamentary partners, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which has threatened to vote against her government's budget if she concedes to the EU's demands over the backstop.
European Union leaders voiced frustration at Mrs May's inability to command the full support of her party.
Mr Varadkar was speaking on the second day of the Asia-Europe summit in Brussels.
"My view is that we should really only have one if there is a goal to having one".
"We were going to operate what they call an independent coastal state".
Other delegations expressed a certain mannerly frustration with the UK's failure to advance the action.
"Today there will be no breakthrough", said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
He said: "We have an industry out there which was shattered over the past 40 years".
"We are in a negotiation but at the moment it begins to look more like a capitulation than a negotiation". Now we know our limits: we don't want an agreement which calls into question the integrity of the single market, or the four freedoms, or which does damage to Ireland. Earlier in the day, Theresa May had told reporters of the great progress that had been made.
Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said the prime minister was "ignoring majority voices" and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said it was "disgraceful".
"After another wasted European Union summit in which Theresa May yet again failed to lay out the UK's position on the Irish backstop, the European Union negotiators need to wise up to the fact that they may have fallen for the oldest trick in the book".
"But I still believe that this agreement is possible and our goal is to find the solution and to find the way".