Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Europe Offers Britain an Olive Branch to Break Brexit Impasse

Europe Offers Britain an Olive Branch to Break Brexit Impasse

The impasse in talks remains the Irish border backstop.

The Financial Times reported that EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is open to a possible one-year extension to the Brexit transition, should Mrs May accept a "two-tier" backstop. But she said she didn't believe the extension would be needed.

The extension idea has angered pro-Brexit U.K. politicians, who see it as an attempt to bind Britain to the bloc indefinitely.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries accused May of "stalling" and repeated her calls for former Brexit secretary David Davis to replace the PM. But each has rejected the other side's solution.

It took them just two hours to decide Theresa May's pitch to them on the third floor of the Europa building was not good enough for them proclaim "decisive progress" in the Brexit negotiations.

The Taoiseach said Ireland could look favourably on such a plan which would be helpful to everyone concerned as the implications of Brexit could require more time.

Mrs May faced a backlash from Brexiteers after she indicated at a Brussels summit on Wednesday that she was not ruling out the United Kingdom remaining in the single market and customs union and subject to EU rules as late as the end of 2021. "The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides", she said.

Theresa May today said she would consider extending the transition period after Britain leaves the European Union, a move her critics said was a betrayal of Brexit.

But the meeting that had been painted as a make-or-break moment for a Brexit deal ended with a whimper.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was "cautiously optimistic" that an agreement would be made "in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile, the top European Union trade official played down the importance of a USA announcement that it will pursue a trade deal with Britain, noting London can not negotiate such pacts until it leaves the bloc. In a recent speech, the newspaper reports that Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon called for Scotland to be allowed to stay a member of the EU's single market, should Northern Ireland obtain a special deal.

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Despite the lack of progress, the mood music at the summit was positive. A deal must be sealed soon so parliaments have time to give their verdict on it.

Not all Conservative MPs have woken up on Thursday morning furious with the prime minister, however.

"It is always the case in negotiations that they are tense and hard and challenging at the end".

May will rejoin her European Union counterparts on Thursday as the focus shifts to a summit with Asian leaders, including China's Premier Li Keqiang and the prime ministers of Japan and Russian Federation.

"There is a message of goodwill, readiness to reach an agreement".

Barnier warned ahead of the European Union summit in Brussels that the Brexit negotiators needed "much more time" to complete a deal. The main challenge for London is to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and, at the same time, secure the nation's integrity.

Last December, EU and UK negotiators agreed to a 21 month transition period after the UK formally leaves the bloc in March next year during which the UK would remain part of the single market but have no say over new rules governing it, and on the need to agree a backstop on the Irish border.

"We are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020", she said.

Britain says it has not asked for an extension - but didn't rule it out Wednesday.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has said the proposal to extend the transition period does not resolve the fundamental issue of the backstop.

It must also be approved by Britain's Parliament, where May lacks an overall majority. "They do not know themselves what they really want. That is the problem".

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