Bettel says United Kingdom must 'take decisions now' on Brexit

Elias Hubbard
October 19, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May said at a Brexit summit she will consider an extension of several months to the proposed transition period, which now stands at 21 months.

But in the U.K., Brexiteers reacted with outrage to the idea of an extension, raising doubts that it would be approved by Parliament.

But some United Kingdom officials are concerned that May's long-held strategy of "no-deal is better than a bad deal", having started out almost two years ago as a line to win over Brexiteers who had been concerned that a prime minister who had voted Remain might go soft on Brexit, has become an unbreakable shibboleth. "The key element is a British political compromise".

The prime minister and her team are willing to consider the longer transition as a way to overcome the the Irish border issue, according to people familiar with the matter.

"Today, we do not know what they want", she said.

The latest impasse in the talks has prompted many Brexit supporters and even critics of Britain's departure to air their frustration over an exit which some Brexit campaigners had said would be the easiest deal ever.

The lack of progress means a special European Union summit on Brexit that had been penciled in for next month to finalize a deal has been scrapped, though European Union leaders said they would assess the situation in the coming weeks. Many small European Union states see the willingness of big powers to risk trade with Britain to protect Ireland as an acid test of the value of European Union membership.

Last December, EU and UK negotiators agreed to a 21 month transition period after the UK formally leaves the bloc in March next year during which the UK would remain part of the single market but have no say over new rules governing it, and on the need to agree a backstop on the Irish border.

"His comments were followed by the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who tweeted that he was ready to resume the talks, but warned: "[An] orderly Brexit must include a solid, all-weather backstop to avoid a hard border in IE/NI".

"If Theresa May is asking for a longer transition period, she is stalling", Dorries tweeted.

The UK is likely to remain under European Union rules and laws beyond 2020 to give both sides in the Brexit negotiations time to negotiate a trade deal, Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

"This is not expected to be used", May said, "because we are working to ensure that we have the future relationship in place by the end of 2020".

Ms. May said extending the negotiations could buy time to resolve the issue.

"On the withdrawal agreement there are a few but considerable outstanding issues in relation to the northern Irish backstop".

Asked earlier whether he would support a longer transition period, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The prime minister has got herself into this mess by failing to reach any meaningful agreements with the EU".

"The blame for this mess falls squarely at the prime minister's feet", said the party's Brexit spokesman Tom Brake.

DExEU's language is cautious, insisting that "it has always been the case that as we get nearer to March 2019, preparations for a no-deal scenario would have to be accelerated".

May addressed European Union leaders for 15 minutes before they sat down to a dinner which she did not attend, with her spokesperson briefing that the Prime Minister had urged European Union leaders to show "trust and leadership".

Merkel said: "Where there's a will, there should be a way". He said: "If a transition deal does not make clear what will happen in the future, we will maintain our decision not to invest". "But it's maybe a more emotional impression than a rational one".

May conceded: "There will be more hard moments as we enter the final stages of the talks, but I'm convinced we will secure a good deal".

Theresa May and her European counterparts went their separate ways in Brussels yesterday after failing to break the deadlock to a Brexit deal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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