Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

No breakthrough but new Brexit headache for Theresa May — EU summit

No breakthrough but new Brexit headache for Theresa May — EU summit

The UK is likely to remain under European Union rules and laws beyond 2020 to give both sides in the Brexit negotiations time to negotiate a trade deal, Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

In a press conference at the end of the summit, Mrs May said good progress was being made on the UK's withdrawal agreement, but acknowledged that "a few, but considerable, outstanding issues" remained to be resolved.

"This prolongation of the transition period probably will happen", Juncker said.

On the Irish border issue Tajani said, "We want a flexible border and to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, but we also want to protect our agri-food sector, industry and health".

While staunch Brexiteer Nadine Dorries called for former Brexit secretary David Davis to step in as "interim leader" over the possibility of an extended transition period, Tory backbencher Johnny Mercer described the current administration as a "shit show" in a fiery interview on Thursday.

Will the proposal solve anything?

Mr Varadkar said: "We have gone now two years without a functioning executive and assembly in Northern Ireland".

Conservative MPs on all sides of the party are losing patience with her leadership.

The problem is that these are two irreconcilable agreements.

Britain's Brexit minister, Dominic Raab, said just a week ago that the so-called backstop created to prevent a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, must be finite, short and time-limited. And she dropped her demand for a fixed end date on a controversial "backstop" plan that could keep the whole United Kingdom in a "temporary" customs union after Brexit.

"She said that any solution to the backstop has to satisfy the requirements laid down by the [EU] Task Force and Ireland", the source said. The Irish have likened it to an insurance policy.

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The Irish and the European Union will also still need the backstop in the withdrawal agreement, which must be signed before the business of the trade deal can get under way. Otherwise it is a no-deal Brexit. Britain would have to negotiate this but it has been estimated at anywhere between £10bn and £17bn.

Staying in the EU for another year would also mean continued freedom of movement and being under the European court of justice, which Brexiters would oppose.

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"Unless she can give a date when we will leave the European Union and ALL its major institutions she cannot claim to have fulfilled the referendum vote" in 2016 for Brexit, it said in an editorial.

The UK prime minister is under pressure to break key Brexit promises in order to get a deal.

The East Antrim MP said Mrs May should not have agreed to settle the so-called "EU divorce bill", or signed up to the backstop proposals.

A Government source has said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has held a number of conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the past 24 hours, and she had "unequivocally" reaffirmed her support for Ireland.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, traditionally an ally of May's in the bloc, said "we have the instruments on the table and it should be doable".

A senior UK government official explained the plan as an "insurance policy" - to circumvent using interim measures to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland - should a gap emerge between the end of the transition period and a future UK-EU trade deal being finalised.

She added: "I'm not standing here proposing an extension to the implementation period".

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