EU To Offer Compromise On Irish Border, Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier Says

Theresa May speaks to journalists as she arrives for the informal EU summit dinner

EU Council President Donald Tusk opened a crucial summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg with a stark warning that Britain's position on key issues must be "reworked".

Tusk told a news conference before chairing a summit of all 28 European Union leaders in the Austrian city of Salzburg later on Wednesday: "The Brexit negotiations are entering their decisive phase".

Diplomats say European Union negotiators are hoping that once Mrs May gets past the political difficulties of her Conservative Party conference in early October that significant progress can be made toward a deal, which leaders could endorse on October 18.

With barely six months until Britain leaves the bloc, at the risk of serious disruption if there is no deal to tie up legal loose ends, there is pressure on both sides: "You can hear very clearly the clock ticking in the room", said the second diplomat.

May said her Chequers proposal on a future customs and trade arrangement would maintain "frictionless trade" with the bloc, and that it was "the only credible and negotiable plan on the table that delivers no hard border in Northern Ireland and also delivers on the vote of the British people". She told fellow leaders over a summit dinner Wednesday that "we will of course not agree on every detail", but "the onus is now on all of us to get this deal done".

In a further sign of how hard it might be for her to persuade the UK Parliament to back the plans, former minister Sir Mike Penning, who worked under Mrs May at the Home Office and backed her for Tory leader, told the Daily Telegraph they were "as dead as a dodo" and that he could not back them.

The UK trade body will today meet with EU representatives in Brussels to highlight the economic importance of the integrated European automotive industry and set out the repercussions for businesses, economies and jobs if a deal can not be struck.

Businessman John Caudwell, a Brexit supporter who founded the company Phones 4U, believes it's the wrong deal for Britain.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May urged European Union leaders to compromise and back her Brexit blueprint Wednesday, ahead of a key meeting of the bloc's leaders in Salzburg, Austria.

May's latest plan - the so-called Chequers proposals - envisions the whole United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, remaining in the European single market for goods only, thereby eliminating the need for a hard border.

Over a private dinner in Salzburg, the prime minister announced hopes for a "shared close future" but warned "we never said Brexit would be easy".

"If we ended up with a Chequers deal being rationalised by the Europeans I would not support that".

"I'm not going to be pushed away from doing what is necessary to get the right deal for Britain", she said. Mrs May will repeat that any solution to the Irish border situation must respect the cohesion of the UK's four parts and do nothing to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

But the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Mrs May's minority administration in Parliament, dismissed Mr Barnier's proposals as unpalatable because they would involve a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

In a letter to leaders ahead of the Salzburg meeting he called on them to work on "limiting the damage" caused by Brexit.

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