Published: Wed, October 17, 2018

Europe Offers Britain an Olive Branch to Break Brexit Impasse

Europe Offers Britain an Olive Branch to Break Brexit Impasse

Mr Barnier is said to be offering the extension to the transition period in return for the Prime Minister accepting a "two-tier" backstop to avoid a border with Northern Ireland.

As for the future relationship with Britain, she said "it must always be clear that, although we want to avoid hardship, ultimately the difference between membership in the European Union and a partnership with the European Union as a third state must and will become clear".

The choreography of Wednesday's summit opening highlights British isolation.

The reports come as Theresa May heads to Brussels to address European Union leaders as she battles to keep her faltering hopes of securing a Brexit deal alive.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to urge her counterparts to give ground on Britain's departure from the bloc, while European Union leaders hope she brings "concrete proposals" to break the deadlock.

The Prime Minister has just about managed to keep the Brexit process afloat despite her election disaster, ministerial resignations, threats to her leadership and setbacks like her Salzburg summit humiliation.

The president of the European Council has said there are "no grounds for optimism" of a breakthrough on Brexit when EU leaders start a crucial summit in Brussels tonight.

The Labour leader cited warnings by businesses that a lack of clarity and the risk of border friction could hit investment and jobs to accuse May of being obsessed by internal Conservative wrangles, and to urge her to keep the United Kingdom in the customs union. "For a breakthrough we need new facts".

And it is all because of the Irish border issue - squaring the circle or making the impossible possible.

However, with her party split - and some Tory MPs openly calling for her to go - Mrs May has little room to manoeuvre if she is to secure a deal which stands any chance of getting through Parliament.

Both sides are now focusing on another summit in November, with the hope that differences can be squared at a further meeting before Christmas.

She received a chilly reception on Monday from many of her MPs as she updated them on the latest impasse in the talks and she will attempt to keep senior ministers on board at their weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The mammoth three-hour meeting came a day after eight Brexit-supporting ministers took the unusual step of meeting over pizzas in the office of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom to discuss their concerns about the PM's stance.

Her official spokesman later told reporters: "The Cabinet strongly supported her on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Union and agreed that we must ensure we can not be kept in a backstop arrangement indefinitely".

"The Prime Minister said there would no doubt be challenging moments ahead, as that is in the nature of negotiations".

In Luxembourg, foreign ministers from the remaining 27 European Union states were receiving a briefing from Mr Barnier at the General Affairs Council.

"If a year is added to that it won't hurt Europe, I hope not Britain as well".

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