Barnier: Brexit deal at 90%, Ireland a 'sticking point'

European Council president Donald Tusk at a media conference

European Council president Donald Tusk at a media

Any such move would enrage Tory Brexiteers.

He also told reporters that it would be up to Mrs May to decide whether she had to defy opposition from her unionist Northern Irish allies and agree to the EU's proposed backstop, which would potentially create trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the British mainland. But I did not perceive anything substantially new in terms of content as I listened to Mrs.

He explained how Mrs May had repeated her insistence that she would not assent to anything that would leave Northern Ireland in the EU's customs jurisdiction without the rest of the UK.

Last month, the foreign secretary told delegates at the Conservative party conference that the European Union wanted to punish a member state for leaving, and likened its tactics to Moscow's during the Soviet era. But even an extension would not get rid of the EU's insistence that such a backstop must be agreed to secure a deal.

Meanwhile, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the UK's withdrawal agreement could still fail over the issue of the Irish border, leading to an "extremely serious" no-deal Brexit.

A senior Labour source said, "We've not called for any extension and the only reason it's being discussed is because of the abject failure of the government's negotiating".

May has tried to maintain an optimistic tone when speaking about the U.K.'s pending exit, touting progress in the complicated talks even as she acknowledges the stark divide between the two sides' positions. He added, "for a breakthrough to take place, besides goodwill, we need new facts".

The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, who also spoke, said: "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".

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

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said any extension to the transition period could delay full withdrawal nearly until the general election scheduled for May 2022, and "may mean we never leave at all".

For many who campaigned to leave the European Union, the idea of continuing to pay into the bloc well beyond Britain leaves in March next year is anathema. "That would backfire spectacularly".

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"It's no longer a technical issue, it's for the political ability of the United Kingdom to reach an agreement that can be presented to us", Macron said. After she left, the remaining 27 discussed her problems in getting support for any deal within her own party.

It is thought the extra time may give negotiators leeway to resolve the question of how to construct a backstop which would keep the Irish border open in the absence of a broader trade deal. "I believe a deal is achievable and now is the time to make it happen", declared the PM.

Following this week's European Union summit, Michel Barnier claimed the agreement was nearly complete while warning the outstanding 10 per cent covered the most contentious issues that could still scupper the talks.

"The longer she leaves it, the easier it is for her to ram it through Parliament and say, 'it's my deal or no deal and you all know no deal will be catastrophic, '" said Catherine Barnard, professor of European Union law at Cambridge University. "They do not know themselves what they really want". They asked her about Brexit. "There is still time for the drama to play". Westminster rises on December 20 for Christmas.

"On 29 March, it's game over", he said.

"No deal the PM can secure will be as good as staying in the European Union". Paris suggested Britons would need visas to travel to France in the event of a no-deal.

"Now the key element for a final deal is on the British side". May's suggestion, saying it is unnecessary stonewalling and violates the spirit of Brexit. If it was not passed, any amendments would be regarded as merely "points of view".

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said: "That is not a meaningful vote and ministers can't be allowed to silence Parliament".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Foreign Secretary said: "The reason why this week has been hard is because Theresa May has not buckled. The Government is trying to stop Parliament having its say".

"When will you stop urging the Prime Minister to change direction and actually have the guts to stand up and say: 'In the name of God go, you are a disaster as Prime Minister and you are betraying Brexit".

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