Europe Offers Britain an Olive Branch to Break Brexit Impasse

Frederick Owens
October 18, 2018

However, with her party split - and some Tory MPs openly calling for her to go - Mrs May has little room to manoeuvre if she is to secure a deal which stands any chance of getting through Parliament.

Brexiteer-in-chief and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said that it would delay full withdrawal nearly until the general election scheduled for May 2022 and "may mean we never leave at all".

May faces a battle to find a solution that is acceptable to both the European Union and hardline Brexit supporters in her own deeply-divided Conservative party, who could block the final deal in the House of Commons.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire optimistically declared "we are not far from a deal" on the morning of the summit.

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament who heard the speech, said May offered them "nothing substantially new" to discuss when they retired for dinner afterwards without her.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that she still believes it's possible to conclude a "good and sustainable" agreement with Britain before its departure - but stressed Germany also is preparing for the risk of a no-deal departure.

According to two European diplomats, Barnier is ready to add a year to the 21-month post Brexit transition period - taking it to the end of 2021 -to provide more space to strike a trade deal.

"Both sides mentioned the idea of an extension of the transition period as one possibility which is on the table and would have to be looked into", he said. "The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides", she said.

The UK has said the transition period, dependent on an overall deal being agreed, is necessary to stop a "cliff-edge" for business and give the two sides time to agree their future relationship.

"There were no new proposals".

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Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "Mrs May's acceptance of an extension to the transition period will take us to the next general election which may mean we never leave at all".

"We cannot find the money to fund our frontline police properly, we cannot find the £2bn for the vulnerable on Universal Credit, but we can mysteriously find billions to bung to the European Union for the unnecessary extra year Clegg and Blair asked Barnier for to waylay Brexit", said Ms Dorries.

Talks on finalising the UK's withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on future trade relations with the EU have been blocked by failure to agree on a backstop to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic in the event that an agreement on future EU-UK relations can not be struck. So we need time, we need much more time.

It would give the North special status with no customs tariffs and also keep product standards there in line with those of the European Union single market.

But Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian President, made clear there would be "no breakthrough" at the summit and said it was up to the United Kingdom to decide what it wanted and rally behind Mrs May.

It comes after she attempted to convince European Union leaders yesterday that a Brexit deal is still possible after talks between negotiators stalled last weekend. Barnier will however ask for one if he judges the talks achieve a breakthrough in coming weeks.

Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU. "It will most definitely limit the prospects of our young", he said.

Any extension would cost billions of pounds in EU fees and leave Britain under European rules for nearly six years after the referendum result.

"That has got to be gripped, and I think the sooner it is gripped the better. Parliament is going to probably want to give some detailed instructions for the government and temper its approval with conditions".

But his warning has been blasted by MPs who say that it effectively breaks the promise ministers made that MPs would have a meaningful vote. "Ministers can not silence Parliament", he said. "The obvious thing to do would be to extend the article 50 period - but politically you can't call a spade a spade".

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