Juncker: extension of Brexit transition period 'probably will happen'

Lester Mason
October 20, 2018

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Tajani said, "As far as we are concerned, this is key".

The Foreign Secretary also called on his party to unite behind the Prime Minister as the negotiations enter the final phase. "There are some hard issues we are still working through".

In their lengthy letter to the PM, outlining their misgivings about the current direction of travel of negotiations; Boris Johnson, David Davis, Jacob Rees Mogg, Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson and Priti Patel tell May: "We urge you not to engage in a show of resistance and a choreographed argument followed by surrender and collapse into some version of the backstop and Chequers". We know their tactics.

At a dinner with fellow European Union leaders in Brussels, Mr Varadkar had circulated a newspaper article about an IRA bomb attack at a customs post in Newry, Co Down in 1972.

The problem is that these are two irreconcilable agreements.

For this, we want a backstop that is workable and legally operational for Northern Ireland.

The taoiseach said he took a copy of The Irish Times to dinner with the leaders to demonstrate his point about a hard border. "We are also open to a three-year transition, if this can help to find a solution".

Reuters also reported that European Union leaders would discuss support for free trade, the Iran nuclear deal and combating global warming, but also forging relationships with China, Japan and Russian Federation as a counterbalance to a more protectionist United States.

Northern Ireland's Brexit-supporting Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), too, which Mrs May's minority government depends on to pass its legislative programme, has warned it will brook absolutely no economic or regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and the British mainland, with DUP MEP Diane Dodds telling the BBC her party "want [s] a Brexit that is good for the [British] Union in all of its constituent parts, but that also respects the constitutional and economic integrity of Northern Ireland".

The taoiseach (Irish prime minister) has said fears over threats of a return of violence in Ireland in the event of a hard border are "very real".

"And in those circumstances there would be no need for any proposal of this sort and I'm clear that I expect the implementation period to end at the end of December 2020".

However, May's idea for an extension to the transition period was lambasted by Gabi Zimmer, GUE/NGL leader and member of the Parliament's Brexit Steering Group. "She accepted the dictates as to how the negotiations would take place and the sequencing of them by the European Union". Former Tory minister Andrew Percy, who campaigned for Brexit, said: 'The ERG are acting more and more like spoiled schoolyard bullies.

"This is not a game - this affects the lives of millions across our continent...."

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.

"However, none of us should be surprised given this is how the British government has always negotiated".

Latest Brexit talks have seen a proposal for an "option" for the United Kingdom to extend its transition period out of the bloc beyond December 2020.

"I met the leaders of both of the two main parties last week and they were in full agreement that the uncertainty around Brexit was one of the major reasons why they haven't been able to form an executive".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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