PM Theresa May presses European Union on Brexit but offers no new plans

Donald Tusk

The call from European Council president Donald Tusk came as Mrs May urged her Cabinet to "stand together and stand firm" on Brexit, after negotiations stalled in the run-up to a crucial summit.

But the senior Conservative acknowledged that staying in the EU's single market and customs union during 2021 could have financial implications, in the form of further cash contributions made by the United Kingdom to Brussels' coffers.

She signalled her willingness to give ground during talks with fellow European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday (Oct 17), one of the people said.

But in an address to the German parliament earlier Wednesday, Merkel revealed that her government was stepping up contingency planning in the event that Britain leaves with no deal.

An EU official later also confirmed to the Sun newspaper that the possibility of a transition extension was discussed.

"There's no need to dramatize matters".

"I did not perceive anything substantially new in terms of content as I listened to Mrs".

Theresa May has confirmed she is ready to consider a delay of "a matter of months" in Britain's final departure from the European Union in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland. She is hemmed in by pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party, who oppose any more compromises with the bloc, and by her parliamentary allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who insist a solution to the border issue can't include customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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.

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.

Michel Barnier
Michel Barnier said ‘we need more time’ to reach a deal

Earlier, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a longer transition period was not a substitute for an agreement on the so-called Irish backstop, created to prevent the need for customs checks at the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic until a wider trade deal is done.

Mr Tajani added the Prime Minister had said she was willing to consider a proposal from the European Union to extend the transition period.

Because of its timing, the summit in Brussels was billed long in advance as the "moment of truth" in the two-year Brexit process. But after urgent talks on the Irish border ended Sunday without producing a breakthrough, Wednesday's gathering looked more like a therapeutic bonding session than an occasion to celebrate.

It was a gruelling House of Commons experience for May, who was grilled by all sides of the Brexit argument and reminded of how many factions she must please to have a chance of getting a Brexit deal through Parliament.

"Tomorrow I am going to ask Prime Minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse".

The prime minister heads to Brussels today with little expectation of unlocking the further progress on Brexit that had been hoped for this month.

"The Prime Minister and her Government are too weak and too divided to protect people's jobs, our economy or ensure there is no hard border in Northern Ireland", he said.

"May is a positive political message: we want to achieve an agreement", Tajani said.

"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. That is the problem".

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