President Macron offers glimmer of hope over the Irish border

Lester Mason
October 17, 2018

"The EU says there is not time to work out the detail of this UK-wide solution in the next few weeks", May said.

"We remain confident that there will be a settlement", a French official said.

EU affairs ministers will be briefed by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Tuesday (16 October) as Brexit negotiations have come to a lull before an expected crunch summit of EU leaders on Wednesday (17 October).

Both sides are now focusing on another summit in November, with the hope that differences can be squared at a further meeting before Christmas. "Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible".

The PM's official spokesman also pointed out that the United Kingdom had always said it wanted a deal "by the autumn" and this week's summit was just "part of the process".

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday she still believes a Brexit deal is "achievable", despite talks with the European Union becoming deadlocked on the issue of the Irish border.

She said: "In fairness to the EU negotiating team, they really haven't moved from their position that the four freedoms [of the EU Single Market] are indivisible and that the Irish border issue must be resolved in the withdrawal treaty".

That would give time to fully flesh out this temporary customs arrangement.

May updated MPs as she prepares to secure a Brexit divorce deal with the EU. Without this, and with less than six months to go till Britain is set to leave, chances of a no-deal Brexit continue to rise.

British prime minister Theresa May on Monday evening told MPs in London that the European Union should not allow disagreements over the Irish border issue hinder the withdrawal agreement.

"We have been clear that we can not agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom".

May told the Cabinet "there will no doubt be challenging moments ahead" but she was hopeful that a deal could be done.

Mr Barnier also declined comment after the breakdown, only telling Sky News: "Be patient".

"We are approaching the end of negotiations. If the Cabinet does not do it - the backbenchers are going to do it".

Quoting May directly, he said she told her ministers: "I am convinced that if we as a government stand together and stand firm we can achieve this".

Also understood to have attended the meeting were Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and staunch Brexiteers Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Geoffrey Cox, as well as two ministers who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, Jeremy Hunt and Liz Truss.

In Luxembourg, foreign ministers from the remaining 27 European Union states were receiving a briefing from Mr Barnier at the General Affairs Council.

Barnier said there were still several important differences between the two sides, notably on the thorny question of the Irish border.

"We will use that time - calmly, with serious intent - to find the overall deal".

Germany's Europe minister called on May to "take responsibility and be constructive".

Mr Roth made clear that Germany is alive to the problems Mrs May could face in getting any deal through Parliament, telling reporters: "I have the impression that it is hard to secure the appropriate parliamentary majority in Great Britain".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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