Brexit Talks Stall At 'Moment Of Truth' Summit

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is desperate to make the Brexit deal work

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is desperate to make the Brexit deal work

But while the mood at a two-day summit in Brussels was more upbeat, there was little movement from either side on how to resolve the border issue, with European Union officials and diplomats saying May had offered nothing new to unlock the talks.

"As I pointed out yesterday, we shouldn't forget this isn't just a case of getting a deal that Westminster can accept; it also has to be accepted by the European Parliament as well".

May's official spokesperson said, "We've shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

Wednesday's Brexit summit dinner in Brussels was supposed to be the "moment of truth" when states gave the green light for Brexit, say Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin in the Guardian.

But the Prime Minister said she does not expect any extension of the so-called "transition" to Brexit to be needed, because she still hopes to conclude a deal on the UK's future trade and security relationship with the European Union by its scheduled end-date of December 2020.

Tusk also said the leaders expressed their resolve to stop the flow of illegal migration.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May. "Such a regime should help to protect our citizens, companies and institutions from all kinds of cyber security threats", he said.

Both made clear that they were only prepared to offer Mrs May space, not further concessions - their clear message that a deal remains possible but it's up to the United Kingdom to find a political solution. There's no guarantee the trade deal could be finalized in time and the EU would expect the sign up to some kind of customs union.

She is hemmed in by pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party, who oppose any more compromises with the bloc, and by her parliamentary allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who insist a solution to the border issue can't include customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

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"I really need to say though that any extension to the transition period couldn't be a substitute to the backstop, it would still need to have that". "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".

The official added that Mrs May continues to regard as "unacceptable" the EU backstop proposal for Northern Ireland alone to remain in the European customs area until the implementation of a new trade deal.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier sought to calm the mood, saying the only remedy was to use the remaining period between now and Christmas. Barnier emphasised the "unanimity on the part of the EU" that there should be no closed border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mrs O'Neill said: "In order to preserve her toxic alliance with the DUP, she is trampling over the rights of citizens by acquiescing to that party's refusal to share power (at Stormont) on the basis of equality".

One idea discussed at this week's European Council is to extend the transition period long enough for a free trade deal, which made border checks unnecessary, to be agreed and come into force.

Irish officials signalled that a decision may follow today on whether a special November summit will be called. Her strategy, therefore "seems to be to leave everything until the very last minute... and hope she can cobble together a deal before bouncing parliament into supporting it for fear of something worse".

No EU leader reacted to May's speech, as has been the tradition with the Brexit discussions at EU level.

The plan is known as the backstop because it's an insurance clause to make sure that no matter what future trading arrangement the two sides decide on, no new border will emerge on the island of Ireland.

But any extension will need to take into account concerns on both sides to avoid the transition ending with no deal. They do not know themselves what they want.

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