Theresa May says 'maybe' to transition period extension — European Union summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker

"But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020".

One pro-EU MP who sits among the Conservative "rebels" told BI they support the idea in principle.

The letter was signed by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and former Brexit secretary David Davis - their first joint intervention after resigning in July over Mrs May's Brexit blueprint, which would keep Britain close to the European Union on trade.

She added: 'What we are doing is working to ensure that we have a solution to the backstop issue to guarantee no hard border between Northern and the Irish Republic'. "The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides". But each has rejected the other side's solution.

This week's summit has always been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification before Brexit day in March.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, also said on Friday that 90% of the deal has been agreed.

Like May, European leaders continue to express confidence a deal can be struck - even as they are growing fearful of an unruly separation.

"What I've heard from the leaders around the table over the last hours.is a very good sense that people want a deal to be done".

"My working assumption is not that we will have a no-deal, a no-deal would be unsafe for Britain and the European Union".

The SNP's Stephen Gethins said it was clear the PM had "failed to bring forward any meaningful proposals to end the deadlock created by her Government".

Britain needed "to decide finally what they want and to rally behind the prime minister all together, not split", she said, adding: "Today we do not know what they want".

But the meeting that had been painted as a make-or-break moment for a Brexit deal ended with a whimper.

Britain's Prime minister Theresa May looks on as she arrives at the European Council in Brussels on October 17, 2018.

Wednesday's Brexit summit dinner in Brussels was supposed to be the "moment of truth" when states gave the green light for Brexit, say Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin in the Guardian.

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 next official European Union summit is scheduled for December. A deal must be sealed soon so parliaments have time to give their verdict on it.

"There's no need to dramatize matters".

"It is always the case in negotiations that they are tense and hard and challenging at the end".

Closer Brexit discussions broke up yesterday after the European Commission confirmed not enough progress had been made in the negotiations for a special summit to be held next month to conclude a draft Brexit agreement.

"There is a message of goodwill, readiness to reach an agreement".

May also faces a rebellion from her parliamentary partners, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which has threatened to vote against her government's budget if she concedes to the EU's demands over the backstop.

"The substantive area of disagreement is whether we would agree to a backstop which would allow for customs barriers down the Irish Sea - the effective break-up of the United Kingdom - or whether we agree to a backstop which would allow the UK as a whole to stay in the customs union indefinitely", he said.

An extended transition period would not solve a fundamental problem with the EU's backstop proposals, the DUP said.

Britain says it has not asked for an extension - but didn't rule it out Wednesday.

"It's time to stand aside and let someone who can negotiate get on with it and deliver".

It must also be approved by Britain's Parliament, where May lacks an overall majority.

More than two years after United Kingdom voters chose to leave the European Union, a string of big deadlines are now looming.

"There's all sorts of difficulties and all sorts of compromises that people of all sides are making, but the fundamental point is that we are leaving the European Union at the end of March next year and we're leaving it with the letter and spirit of what people voted for in the referendum".

"I want to see what the outcome is and the detail", they told BI.

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