Agreeing backstop deal a matter of trust, says Varadkar

Agreeing backstop deal a matter of trust, says Varadkar

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said "much more time" was needed, and that he would continue working "calmly and patiently". "But I have to say the period since I made that speech we have had a very different approach from the European Union a more constructive approach that has led to the situation we're in now where all but one or two issues have been resolved".

He repeated his party's criticisms of the EU's Irish border backstop position.

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.

European Union leaders warned Wednesday there must be more progress in Brexit negotiations, despite hearing a personal plea by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said she was open to a longer transition phase to unblock the talks.

Mr Barnier said there was absolutely no intention by European leaders to punish Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her closest advisers were on Thursday contemplating how to scale the "brick wall" that is preventing a Brexit deal being agreed with Brussels.

This week's council summit ended with both sides failing to agree a way forward to unblock the talks, but the Prime Minister has made a political gamble by suggesting to extend the transition period after Britain's official exit day.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that 2 ½ years after Britain's Brexit referendum, the country had still not explained clearly how it wants to leave the EU. EU leaders are clear: if the United Kingdom wants to be part of the single market and customs union for longer, it will need to pay.

Syed Kamall, the leader of the Conservative's group, is "quite confident that there will be a deal by the end of the year", a spokesperson said on Friday.

"The Prime Minister spoke for about 10 minutes and the tone of her message was quite optimistic", a source familiar with the content of the call told Reuters.

"I am going to ask Prime Minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse", EU President Donald Tusk declared.

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"We have shown we can do hard deals constructively", Mrs May told the EU27 leaders.

An EU source confirmed Mrs May was ready to consider adding an extra year.

'This is pretty much it, ' an European Union diplomat said of the weekend offer, which included a longer transition to give time for a customs deal. Efforts to allay these objections, centred on fears of splitting the North from the rest of the United Kingdom, have run into trouble with the EU side who want to protect the single market and customs union.

Tusk advised May that "creative" thinking from Britain was required to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, the issue that has brought Brexit negotiations to a standstill.

If May loses, there would be a leadership contest with the victor becoming prime minister, without the need for new elections.

Stephen Martin, IoD director general, said the PM did not say if the possibility of extending the transition period was being seriously considered.

The French Government yesterday published draft no-deal legislation that could require British citizens to obtain a visa before travelling to France following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Malmstrom said the Europeans "see this merely as preparations being made by the U.S.to negotiate with them and others".

Theresa May and her European Union counterparts seem likely to trot out the line that a Brexit deal will, probably, be struck, albeit at the 11th hour at this evening's European Union summit.

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.

But any extension will need to take into account concerns on both sides to avoid the transition ending with no deal.

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