Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

May and European Union leaders upbeat over Brexit deal despite delay

May and European Union leaders upbeat over Brexit deal despite delay

Theresa May has left open the option of Britain staying under European Union rules for an extra year in order to secure a final Brexit deal.

As he arrived for the Brussels meeting, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had said "we need time, we need much more time" for talks, vowing to work "calmly and patiently" for a deal in the coming weeks.

"I think we are quite close to a no-deal", warned Konrad Szymanski, the Polish minister for European Affairs, after a pre-summit meeting with his European counterparts in Luxembourg.

And in Paris, Emmanuel Macron's government published details of legislation to authorise preparations for a no-deal Brexit, which could see the restoration of customs checks and health inspections for animals at French ports, and even a requirement for Britons to seek visas for stays of three months or more.

"There's no need to dramatize matters".

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to urge her counterparts to give ground on Britain's departure from the bloc, while European Union leaders hope she brings "concrete proposals" to break the deadlock.

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament who heard the speech, said May offered them "nothing substantially new" to discuss when they retired for dinner afterwards without her.

The EU is considering allowing Britain to leave the EU over a longer period in return for agreeing to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

There's significant reluctance from Brussels to drawing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

At least 30,000 people cross the border every day for work, with many residents of border regions living on one side and working on the other.

Back in January the two sides believed that the remaining nine and a half months would be enough to settle the remaining details of the UK's withdrawal deal and the outline of the post-Brexit trading relationship between Britain and the EU.

Meanwhile, May said this morning that she is open to extending the UK's transition period with the European Union until the end of 2021, without actually having to use it.

Britain says it has not asked for an extension, but May has not yet come up with proposals for unblocking the Irish border logjam.

The summit in Brussels had always been seen as the "moment of truth" in the two-year Brexit process.

But three days after talks stalled over the Irish border "backstop", thwarting hopes of a deal at the summit, May arrived determined to stress that an accord was still on the cards.

The summit continues Thursday with an agenda limited to some issues both sides firmly agree on, including fighting cybercrime and dealing with an assertive Russian Federation.

Tusk broke off the meeting, after nobody responded to the British Prime Minister.

But persuading the bloc is only part of the British leader's problem.

But when the prime minister was asked in the House of Commons earlier today whether her Government's blueprint for an amicable exit was dead, May replied: "The answer is no".

But even extending the transition period led to a compromise between May and the EU-27, there is no guarantee that she would be able to sell such a deal to her divided Conservative party.

Merkel said: "The chance of achieving a good and sustainable withdrawal agreement in good time is still there, and it is really in the interest of our relations with Britain, in the interest of our economy. and of course in the interest of people in our countries".

"The original transition was an unnecessary trap created by our weak civil servants who can not be trusted as they don't want us to leave".

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