EU’s Barnier: more time needed for Brexit deal

17 October, 2018, 20:22 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Brexit deal tonight possible

Ireland's deputy leader Simon Coveney will hold a private meeting on Tuesday in Luxembourg with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

Loiseau said "everything is on the table" and France had set up the mechanisms to pass emergency legislation to deal with the chaos expected in the event of "no deal". Merkel said a breakthrough was still possible but would need "quite a bit of finesse and if we aren't successful this week, we'll just have to keep negotiating".

Ireland's nationalist Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald cautioned her unionist rivals that if there were a hard Brexit, "then there will be an immediate demand for a referendum on Irish unity".

It was that kind of opposition that made it impossible for Dominic Raab, May's Brexit minister, to agree to a deal in Brussels on Sunday.

May said both sides had made "real progress" on the terms of Britain's divorce from the bloc and the outline plan for future trading relations.

No 10 said cabinet members also endorsed May's call to "maintain the integrity of the union" between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which the prime minister had told the Tuesday morning meeting was under threat by the EU's proposed version of the backstop.

Nevertheless, the prime minister said on Monday that the two sides were not "far apart" and the border issue must not be allowed to derail the entire effort.

"We both hope that over the next 24 hours and maybe during the summit itself we will come to a conclusion on the right way", he added.

Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted that any backstop must be time-limited, but the Irish government has already ruled this out.

In Paris, Macron said: "I believe in our collective intelligence, so I think we can make progress", but added that "we are ready for all scenarios".

High-level talks in Brussels ended without agreement Sunday, and no more are planned before an European Union summit starting Wednesday.

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There was genuine optimism a deal could be reached this week on the back of intensive negotiations over new British "backstop" proposals.

In particular, she needed to be able to guarantee the public that any backstop was a "temporary solution" and without the "backstop to a backstop" arrangement being proposed by the European Union as the only viable solution as the clock ticks down to the March 29 deadline, when Britain is set to leave the EU.

One of the main sticking points is what to do about the land border between European Union member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland.

The prime minister failed to reassure MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party that there'd be no new regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom after Brexit, and received a kicking from numerous pro-EU MPs, including up to 10 MPs who urged May to back another referendum.

Even if the Irish border issue is resolved, investors fear it could signal the start of another, potentially tougher battle for May with her own lawmakers, many of whom want a clean break from Europe.

Theresa May is facing the possibility of a Brexit nightmare before Christmas amid concerns that negotiations may have to run until December in order to get a deal.

The European Council president said he had "no grounds for optimism" it would be solved at the summit.

Jeremy Hunt said Monday that "there are one or two very hard outstanding issues, but I think we can get there".

But a spokesman for May expressed hope, saying there were "a number of means of achieving what we want to achieve" on the backstop, but declined to give details.

Britain refuses to be pinned down on a date for a deal.


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