European Union demands more Brexit progress despite British PM's plea

18 October, 2018, 20:27 | Author: Wade Massey
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May

May is considering an European Union proposal to extend the transition period that's already due to keep Britain bound to the bloc's rules for 21 months after exit day.

But the two sides disagree on how to resolve the issue.

Ireland's Europe Minister Helen McEntee said that the Prime Minister has reaffirmed her commitment to the backstop during a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels on Wednesday evening.

At present the two sides are proposing that Britain remain inside the European Union single market and bound by its rules from the time it leaves the bloc in March until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up. "But the body language was more positive than in the past", Tajani said.

"This is a play to normalise "transition" indefinitely until a time when the establishment can call the whole thing off".

She subsequently said that the United Kingdom had already put forward a proposal to avoid the need for either a hard border or a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"She is very weak in her own party these days after the recent elections in Bavaria".

The choreography of Wednesday's summit opening emphasises British isolation.

The backstop is a proposed mechanism to keep the United Kingdom in the EU's Customs Union after Brexit - essentially precluding the country from taking back control of its worldwide trade policy - in order to prevent a hard economic border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland.

"My working assumption is not that we will have a no-deal, a no-deal would be unsafe for Britain and the European Union".

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Mrs May spoke for 15 minutes before leaving the summit, and leaving the rest of the leaders to discuss the impasse over Brexit. The diplomats said that Barnier had revealed his offer to European Union ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg on Wednesday.


Back in Brussels, a stern Tusk said he had "no grounds for optimism" based on a report Tuesday from Barnier and May's appearance in parliament on Monday. Tusk on Tuesday called on May to bring new, concrete proposals to Brussels on the Irish border question, but May did not present anything new in her speech.

But when the prime minister was asked in the House of Commons earlier today whether her Government's blueprint for an amicable exit was dead, May replied: "The answer is no".

A dog wears a banner during the "Wooferendum march" in central London where dog owners and their pets gather to demand a new Brexit referendum.

The PM said: "We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

Arriving in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the European line that "90 percent" of the withdrawal agreement was settled.

BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley, in Brussels, said European Union sources suggested the PM had given a "relatively positive assessment" and while there was goodwill on both sides "we are not where we would have liked to be".

As she tries to hit those marks, May faces the daunting task of not only negotiating with the EU's 27 countries but also selling the terms of any deal to hard-line Brexiteers at home.

He added: "No Prime Minister should negotiate a deal that threatens jobs".

The EU official also said May had told leaders that Britain was prepared to consider an extension.

"The only answer to public disillusionment with how Brexit has not lived up to what they voted for is a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal". Brexit must be orderly for everyone and for all the issues, including on the island of Ireland.

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