Published: Thu, October 18, 2018

European Union leaders gather for 'moment of truth' Brexit summit

European Union leaders gather for 'moment of truth' Brexit summit

Theresa May will be in Brussels today and will be addressing European leaders before the pre-summit dinner is scheduled to take place.

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. "It's always the case with negotiations, that in the end there are challenges", he said.

The cabinet meeting yesterday did not consider a specific wording on any deal, nor make any decisions, but was a discussion about the negotiations and unity.

May faced a fresh row on Wednesday night when her Brexit department published a letter suggesting a Parliamentary motion on the final deal would not be "amendable", leaving MPs with a choice of either the PM's deal or no deal at all.

The European Union is ready to extend Brexit's post-divorce transition period by a year to allow more time to find a trade deal, diplomats said Wednesday ahead of a hard summit.

He said: "We are not there yet".

Both sides stress that there was progress on other unresolved issues, such as how the withdrawal agreement could be governed, and any role for the European Court of Justice, and the mutual recognition of Geographical Indications, such as Champagne, and Welsh Caerphilly. "We need time, we need much more time..."

Mr Tajani suggested that Mrs May had shown willingness to look into the possibility of extending the proposed 21-month transition period following Brexit to three years.

This follows Mrs May's refusal to sign a draft agreement on Brexit terms on Sunday evening, which threw the EU's Brexit timetable out of the window.

The one thing upon which all sides of the Brexit divide can surely agree is that any deal that Theresa May brings back from Brussels will be a national humiliation. "That would backfire spectacularly".

A United Kingdom official speaking in Brussels insisted the United Kingdom still hoped a Brexit deal could be "wrapped up in the autumn"; but European Union leaders have so far declined to confirm whether a planned November summit could be used to finalise an agreement - or will instead be devoted to preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

Several leaders had already indicated they have no hopes of a breakthrough this week, with all eyes now on whether enough progress has been made to hold further talks in November.

The PM said: "We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite claimed the Prime Minister didn't have a "strong mandate". Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "That is not a meaningful vote". And now, just days before the deadline, they are still bickering amongst themselves. "It is a problem", she declared.

But when the prime minister was asked in the House of Commons earlier Wednesday whether her government's blueprint for an amicable divorce was dead, May replied: "The answer is no". "There is still time for the drama to play". Westminster rises on December 20 for Christmas.

What is the meaningful vote?

In a separate development, it became clear France and Germany were now drawing up contingency plans for Britain crashing out of the EU.

During an impressive closing salvo Corbyn said: "The Conservative party has spent two years arguing with itself instead of negotiating a deal in the public interest".

"She clearly doesn't think she can win a straight vote in parliament without fixing the rules".

Theresa May is set to attend a Brussels summit on Wednesday to try to move talks forward (WPA Pool/Getty Images)Could it actually go ahead? "[But] there is no change in content", he said. "The Government is trying to stop Parliament having its say".

The Prime Minister responded by saying the Government would take "the needs of the British economy" into account when considering future immigration policies.

May's cabinet have told her they will not accept either an indefinite backstop - or one that leaves Northern Ireland in a different regulatory regime.

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