Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

UK PM Mulls Longer Transition as EU Demands Brexit Progress

UK PM Mulls Longer Transition as EU Demands Brexit Progress

"These issues are still pending, but in the talks I had this morning with Prime Minister Theresa May, we encouraged one another to reach an agreement on two out of the four memorandums, those dealing with tax issues, which are the most flexible ones". They include workers' movements across the border and security matters.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, second left, speaks with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, right, during a group photo at an EU-ASEM summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

There were doubts about the value of calling any special summit in November to finalise the EU-UK divorce terms as many leaders sought to calm things and maximise use of the final weeks.

Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement is viewed as potentially catastrophic as tariffs, customs and regulatory issues could severely disrupt trade.

Mr Juncker said: 'This prolongation of the transition period probably will happen. Both sides agree there must be no hard border, which could disrupt businesses and residents on both sides and undermine Northern Ireland's peace process.

Boles said: "They are close to despair at the state of this negotiation because there is a fear that both the government and the European Union are trying to run out the clock, that they are trying to leave this so late that they can then credibly say that there's no alternative but a no-deal Brexit".

Officials said there were hints that Britain might consider extending a post-Brexit transition period beyond the proposed 21 months to make talks on a future trade relationship easier. Agreement on such an extension could help break the deadlock on the talks. "It's a good idea".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described finding a solution as "squaring the circle".

"The point is that this [extension] is not expected to be used", she said. This agreement is the terms on how the United Kingdom will leave the bloc, not what its future relationship will be. "What I feel today is that we are closer to the final solutions and the deal", he told a news conference. "Where there's a will, there should be a way, and normally there is a way".

On Thursday British Prime Minister Theresa May and other European Union leaders voiced renewed confidence that they could secure a Brexit deal, "yet the two sides remain at odds over how to deal with their only land border", reports Reuters.

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No EU leader reacted to May's speech, as has been the tradition with the Brexit discussions at EU level.

With talks on the vexing issue of the Irish border deadlocked, both sides said they needed several more weeks or months to work on an agreement.

"What has now emerged is the idea that an option to extend the implementation period could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland", she said.

However, European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that without new "concrete proposals" from the British to break the logjam over the Irish border backstop, further progress on a deal may be impossible. "But it's maybe a more emotional impression than a rational one".

Tusk was blamed for contributing to a tense atmosphere at an European Union summit in September in Austria, when he made frank comments and compounded it with an Instagram entry that was considered flippant and disrespectful toward May.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis and other from May's party warned the prime minister not to "engage in a show of resistance and a choreographed argument followed by surrender" to the EU.

Talks are stalled on the question of how to avoid a policed frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, without erecting new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

And Davis's former chief of staff Stewart Jackson asked: "If you can't – or in the EU's case won't – resolve the backstop issue now because it's an issue of principle than why will it take another three years to resolve it?"

"If the Government is saying to us we will pay £39 billion plus, for the extension, £15 or £16 billion more per annum and we don't have anything in return other than a waffly political declaration, I think that will be very hard to get through the House of Commons", he said.

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