European Union leaders gather for 'moment of truth' Brexit summit

Lester Mason
October 21, 2018

Seeking to unblock Britain's stalled divorce talks with the EU, May said a proposed 21-month transition period for the United Kingdom after Brexit could be extended by 'a matter of months'.

"That bilateral relation contains elements such as taxes, environmental cooperation, security, and the movement of workers between Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar".

"I'm clear that it is possible to do that and that is what we are working for".

Unlike the special protocol on Gibraltar, which will be annexed to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, the memorandums are not an essential part of the Brexit deal.

At a summit in Brussels, May confirmed that she is considering the extension idea floated by the European Union as a possible way to break the deadlock over how to keep Britain's border with Ireland open after Brexit.

A senior British official confirmed on Thursday that even if the transition were extended, Britain remained opposed to the EU's backstop plan.

It has been a tough week for Theresa May, who has spent the last few days in Brussels at a crunch Brexit summit with European Union leaders.

In his response to that speech, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party said, "This really is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day".

The goal of the implementation, or transition, period is to allow businesses time to prepare, to avoid disrupting holidaymakers and to implement global security measures.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mrs May said an extension to the transition period "could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland".

Britain says it has not asked for an extension, but May has not yet come up with proposals for unblocking the border logjam.

The UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019, by which time any deal would have to be passed by the British and European parliaments, as well as national assemblies across the bloc.

"I think where there is a will, there is a way", German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have said, while it is thought the President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, told leaders May needs "help" to sell a deal back in Blighty. According to three government officials, at least some of them were left puzzled by her presentation.

But the two sides disagree on how to resolve the issue.

The EU suggests that the British province of Northern Ireland stay aligned to its single market and customs union until a new trade deal is agreed.

EU Council President Donald Tusk has told May that "creative" thinking from Britain is required to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the U.K's Northern Ireland, the issue that has brought divorce talks to a standstill.

Former Brexit Minister Baker's amendments would have to be considered and voted on by a Parliamentary Committee before the legislation could be voted on, meaning the government would have to decide in favour of the backstop to stop the amendments, effectively creating different rules for Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.

Tajani said May had offered nothing new, though he thought her "body language" was positive.

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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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