European Union calls for new proposals from Theresa May to break Brexit deadlock

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said the backstop cannot be time-limited

In a letter to European Union leaders, Tusk struck a downbeat tone as he said talks have stalled since a meeting at Salzburg last month in which May's plan was dismissed as not viable.

The most damning assessment came from French President Emmanuel Macron, who told May that Brexit was sold sold to the British people by "liars (who) left the next day so they didn't have to manage it".

Instead, ministers spent much of the discussions focused on how to come up with a "mechanism" to ensure any backstop can not become permanent, trapping the United Kingdom in the EU customs union indefinitely.

Second, the DUP has drawn a clear distinction between the withdrawal agreement, which would make the backstop legally operational and binding, and the political declaration, which would be nothing more than a good-faith promise.

Barnier met his British opposite number Dominic Raab in Brussels on Sunday, but they failed to agree a draft Brexit divorce arrangement before European Union leaders arrive in the city on Wednesday.

Sources in the British government have said the likelihood of reaching an agreement is slim, or would amount to a last-minute deal, the Guardian reported on Monday.

Britain says it will only accept that EU Brexit plan if it is temporary and does not hive Northern Ireland off permanently from the rest of the U.K.in terms of customs arrangements.

However, in a letter to European Union leaders, Tusk yesterday cautioned that the likelihood of a disorderly Brexit had increased, as talks had "proven to be more complicated than some may have expected".

"Nobody wants to ever trigger the backstop, but it needs to be there as an insurance mechanism to calm nerves that we're not going to see physical border infrastructure re-emerging". "We need more time, but there isn't much time left", one British official said.

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She is due to address them before they retire to discuss Brexit without her over dinner in Brussels, and is hoping that they unblock the impasse by agreeing to negotiate further on the backstop in the run-up to an emergency summit in November. "Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible".

Senior Conservative figures continue to push forward a different agenda with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson saying the backstop should be thrown out, while former Brexit secretary David Davis has called for parliament to "exert its collective authority" over the border issue.

"The PM said there will no doubt be challenging moments ahead, that is in the nature of negotiations".

Mr Howlin said he doesn't know where suggestions that a postponement could happen is coming from but it's the first time he's been told about such a prospect from social democratic colleagues on the Continent.

"We will take this time, calmly and seriously, to find this global agreement in the next weeks", he said. "This is going to be a hard time, but the whole Cabinet is digging in to get the best deal for this country".

And Mrs Leadsom herself said: "The Prime Minister is doing a very, very complicated job and I'm fully supporting her in getting that done".

Germany's Europe minister, Michael Roth, said Berlin's message to Mrs May was: "Take responsibility and be constructive".

May is under intense pressure from her Conservative Party and its parliamentary allies not to give any more ground in Brexit negotiations.

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