No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Brexit transition could be extended, British PM says

European leaders paid respect to May's positive tone but said there had not been enough progress in Brexit talks to schedule another council summit in November.

"The proposal to keep us shackled to the European Union for another year beyond the transition period is an outrageous non-starter", the tabloid said. He also said he thought the longer transition phase was "a good idea".

"This is not expected to be used", May said, "because we are working to ensure that we have the future relationship in place by the end of 2020".

Quick guide Why extend the Brexit transition period?

Will the proposal solve anything?

"A further idea which has emerged - and it is only an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months and it would only be a matter of months", the email read.

While it could help May sell a deal at home, it won't remove the need to accept the most controversial part of the EU's proposal - that in a last-resort situation, Northern Ireland could be split off from the rest of Britain.

"We are working with European Union to deal with this issue of ensuring that if there is a gap between the end of the implementation period and the point when the future relationship comes in - and we don't expect a gap to exist - we want to ensure there's no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, " May said. They also impinge on the legally binding Good Friday agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland and in some senses pooled sovereignty of Northern Ireland giving people a birthright to be Irish or British or both.

Sammy Wilson declared himself "appalled" with the Mrs May's handling of the negotiations, saying "she only has herself to blame" for the EU's "intransigent" stance.

"But I am still optimistic that we can find a solution for the Brexit issue in the coming weeks or months". The Irish have likened it to an insurance policy.

Under the EU's backstop proposal Northern Ireland would stay in the single market and customs union while the rest of the United Kingdom withdraws.

But the meeting that had been painted as a make-or-break moment for a Brexit deal ended with a whimper.

The end of transition had originally been fixed for December 2020 but it is now suggested that it could be pushed out by another year to the end of 2021. Britain would have to negotiate this but it has been estimated at anywhere between £10bn and £17bn.

The 27 leaders then refused to sign off on a special November summit planned to seal the divorce deal, pushing any agreement back to a December summit - just four months before Brexit.

May has repeatedly ruled out extending what she calls an implementation period, but at least one of her ministers has indicated he may support such a step.

"Mrs. May's acceptance of an extension to the transition period will take us to the next general election, which may mean we never leave at all", complained Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party.

When May first requested the transition period, she said it should be limited to a period of about two years. "We need to know what the other side wants - finally".

This prospect has increased dramatically since last Sunday's talks between Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and European Union negotiator Michel Barnier failed to break the deadlock.

Leave-supporting cabinet ministers Penny Mordaunt and Michael Gove also signalled discomfort at the prospect of an extension to the transition period.

May's suggestion that she'd be willing to extend the Brexit transition period by up to one year has predictably led to outrage among Conservative MPs and cries of "I told you so" from the opposition.

May conceded: "There will be more hard moments as we enter the final stages of the talks, but I'm convinced we will secure a good deal".

After her Chequers plan for Brexit was humiliatingly rejected at the last European Union summit in Salzburg last month and efforts to seal a last-minute deal foundered last weekend over the EU's demand for a "backstop" to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

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