United Kingdom leader's allies issue threats over Brexit - 10/15/2018 3:53:46 AM

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier addresses a press conference after his meeting with British Brexit minister at the European Commission in Brussels

May is just days away from a crucial summit with European Union leaders in which both sides hope for a divorce deal.

The Democratic Unionist Party, a Northern Ireland party whose ten MPs are propping up May's Conservative government, maintains that it will not accept being separated from the UK's internal market.

But his officials yesterday indicated that fresh proposals for a "temporary backstop" contingency plan as an insurance policy created to keep no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic could be put on the table.

If no one's even talking, how can they expect to agree? "We have been clear that we can not agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom", May said.

"We are not where we should be to find an agreement in Irish issue in Brexit talks", Juncker said for French newspapers Le Monde on Friday, October 12, indicating that the time to reach the Brexit agreement will have to be made between next week's meeting and possible November Brexit summit.

Barnier's comments have more or less put paid to any prospect of a decisive breakthrough at this week's summit.

Both sides in Brexit talks were hoping that a deal on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, including the Irish border question, would be agreed by mid-November in time for it to be ratified by European Union members and for MPs at Westminster to vote on it.

She used an emergency Commons statement to say the EU's plan "threatens the integrity" of the United Kingdom because it could create a customs border in the Irish Sea.

Like Britain's Hunt, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said of a deal: "it seems that this week it will not be possible, but this week is not the end".

To illustrate the perceived intractability of the Irish border problem, Tusk on Tuesday compared it to the mythical Gordian knot that can not be untied because it is so complicated. Legend has it that the ancient Greek king used his sword to cut through the knot.

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"Unfortunately, I can't see a new version of Alexander the Great", Tusk said.

Health minister Matt Hancock suggested the backstop could be temporary without such a date, an argument that may fall flat for some eurosceptic lawmakers who are calling for May to "chuck Chequers", her Brexit plan named after her country residence.

If a way forward is agreed by both sides, Britain's withdrawal agreement from the European Union could be finalised by Thursday, signed at a special European Union summit next month and voted on by Parliament at the end of November. Tusk warned that chances of Britain leaving without a deal were higher than ever before.

Ms. May's backing away from a deal that was close to being agreed on, follows growing pressure from within her party.

The prime minister told her cabinet a deal was within reach if the government "stand together and stand firm".

The EU is waiting for new proposals from Britain.

European leaders advocate a "backstop" agreement, whereby failing other solutions, Northern Ireland will remain closely tied to European regulations on goods and services, including customs arrangements, after Britain leaves the bloc.

House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey were all poised to quit.

And while there may have been a sense in Brussels that Mrs May was moving towards them, after she talked of doing a deal in the "national interest" during last week, if anything the politics at home have got more fraught.

Germany exhorted May to come to Wednesday's summit with a positive message that could kick-start the stalled talks.

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