Barnier calls for more time to find Brexit deal

Barnier calls for more time to find Brexit deal

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

On Tuesday Tusk described the Irish border question as a "Gordian knot" - a seemingly unsolvable problem that could only be resolved with bold actions.

Kurz joined a chorus of both British and European leaders insisting a deal was still possible despite fresh Brexit talks in Brussels breaking down on Sunday.

She'll continue efforts to win senior ministers over at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. The discussions appear to have made little headway in recent days and expectations of a deal at that summit have been scaled back.

Some ministers want a specific end-date, but No.10 is working on a different plan to avoid turning a planned temporary customs arrangement into an indefinite tie to the EU. Some issues, including the border issue in Ireland, are still open.

Preventing any return of a hard border between the British province and EU member Ireland has become one of the major obstacles to such an agreement, with Brexit campaigners fearful that a non time-limited backstop will keep Britain inside a customs union with the bloc indefinitely. May is probably going to have to count on opposition votes, and will need to present it as the only viable alternative to chaos.

The EU had been hoping for a breakthrough at this week's summit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was in Dublin yesterday for meetings with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and others.

Labour's official position, endorsed at last month's party conference, is to press for a general election if Parliament rejects a Brexit deal - but failing that not to rule out a referendum.

Three senior European Union officials requesting the media to maintain their anonymity have informed Reuters that an agreement on the Brexit conditions has been reached; however, other speakers aware of the negotiation procedure have dismissed the comments and announced that talks are still ongoing, adding that the deal was unlikely to be reached on Sunday.

The EU said it was pressing forward with contingency plans to protect the 27 remaining member states if Britain crashes out of the bloc with neither a deal in place nor a transition period established. "I think we have reached a breaking point", said Hugh Bennett, news editor at Guido Fawkes, a Conservative blog site.

She added: "So this requires a great deal of finesse".

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"We still have ample time to make it work", he wrote. Those issues will be clarified during the next few weeks, because the November EU Summit has to finalize the EU-UK divorce deal.

She claimed the European Union is sticking to its backstop proposal because the bloc's negotiating team had told her there was not enough time to evaluate a British UK-wide counter-proposal over the next few weeks.

Talks among key officials in Brussels on Monday are cancelled for now.

But Ireland's foreign minister, Simon Coveney, says a backstop is essential.

"There is a better solution ..."

"They discussed the need for a mechanism to clearly define how the backstop will end", the spokesman said. "That's new. It hasn't been there before".

But British Prime Minister Theresa May says that would create "a border in the Irish Sea" and she won't accept it.

Mrs May's counter-proposal is for a "temporary customs arrangement" for the whole United Kingdom, but Tory Brexiteers fear this becoming an open-ended position that would prevent free trade deals with countries around the world.

Such a proposal is considered anathema to Northern Ireland's Brexit-supporting, socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which Theresa May's minority administration relies on to achieve a parliamentary majority.

Tusk warned European Union leaders Monday that they should be ready for the worst. Whether we do this week or not, who knows? I felt it will take until November to get done.

Some EU diplomats speculate that she needs to have a fight in order to get the deal she does eventually deliver through a divided British Parliament.

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