Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

British PM blasted back home over European Union extension plan

British PM blasted back home over European Union extension plan

Upon her arrival at the European Union summit, May told reporters, "We have solved most of the issues in the withdrawal agreement".

FILE - A auto crosses over the border from the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland near the town of Jonesborough, Northern Ireland, Jan. 30, 2017.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker predicted on Thursday that a Brexit deal "will be done" despite recent setbacks.

As he arrived for the Brussels meeting, Barnier had said "we need time, we need much more time" for talks, vowing to work "calmly and patiently" for a deal in the coming weeks.

"A 20-month transition period would never be sufficient", said Georgina Wright, a Brexit expert and research associate at Chatham House in London.

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.

May said the United Kingdom was considering extending the transition period by "a matter of months".

May committed a year ago to keeping the border open between the two parts of the island of Ireland, even if Britain leaves the bloc without an exit agreement or a free trade deal.

Despite the stalemate, Tusk tried to sound upbeat in his press conference - a contrast to his remarks at the close of a summit in Salzburg last month when said May's plan for a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union would not work.

Many of them suspect the British leader is pursuing a strategy of delay created to push negotiations to the brink, at which point Europe would yield and the hardcore Brexiteers in the British Parliament would be hard-pressed not to accept May's version of withdrawal, even if they despise it as a capitulation.

Extending the transition period could mean that if a future partnership is not ready, a backstop, which so far has been unpalatable to the British side, would not have to be triggered.

"We of course are working to ensure not just that we are able to ensure no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, were such a gap in time to emerge, but to ensure that the implementation period comes to an end in December 2020, because we are able to put the future relationship into place at the end of the implementation period and ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland".

He also denied his late-night Wednesday drink with Mrs Merkel and Belgium's Charles Michel and Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel was a snub to Mrs May, explaining the prime minister had already left the European Union summit before they headed out.

One MP called for the Prime Minister to "stand aside" and five former Tory cabinet ministers issued an open letter urging her to scrap her strategy.

Eurosceptics in May's Conservative Party are likely to accuse her of delaying Brexit, and will balk at the prospect of Britain continuing to pay about 10 billion euros (S$15.8 billion) a year into the EU's budget.

The EU is considering allowing Britain to leave the EU over a longer period in return for agreeing to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Juri Ratas, the Estonian Prime Minister, struck a more sympathetic tone. There's no guarantee the trade deal could be finalised in three years and the EU would expect Britain to sign up to some kind of customs union.

Striking a Brexit deal that a majority feel happy with was always going to be a tough task, but few are enthusiastically rallying round May's negotiation.

"I believe a deal is achievable and now is the time to make it happen", the prime minister told journalists at the EU Council meeting on Wednesday.

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

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

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