Merkel says ‘still a chance’ for deal on Brexit

Merkel says ‘still a chance’ for deal on Brexit

The EU is considering allowing Britain to leave the EU over a longer period in return for agreeing to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Ireland's foreign minister says the European Union is open to extending Britain's post-Brexit transition period so that a permanent solution can be found to the Irish border problem.

May will address the other 27 European Union national leaders at a summit before they sit down to dinner without her. Officials said they expected the leaders to tell May they have little more to offer since talks stalled on Sunday and they will step up preparations for Britain to drop out of the bloc with no deal.

However, while May's refusal to make more concessions to the European Union in talks delayed a revolt in Westminster, the prime minister's leadership remains precarious, with senior Cabinet ministers last night openly meeting to discuss how to undermine her plans.

And even with a year's extension there is still a risk of that happening.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier had suggested "more time in the transition period to agree an alternative solution to a backstop".

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire optimistically declared "we are not far from a deal" on the morning of the summit.

Downing Street insiders do not now believe there is much prospect of the EU27 recommending a special November summit to seal a deal.

The Chequers plan would ensure free-flowing trade said Mrs May - and it was better than Labour "havering around" on free movement and "now wanting a second referendum" - something she would never countenance.

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EU Council President Donald Tusk attempted to increase the pressure on Mrs May to come forward with new "concrete proposals" at the summit and claimed there were "no grounds for optimism" about the chances of a deal.

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

A Cabinet source said yesterday that despite May's refusal to give in to European Union demands, ministers were very anxious by what she said to the House of Commons earlier that day, telling BI: "Pizza club should be interesting tonight".

Here Theresa May will have a chance to assess the loyalty of her cabinet as they meet to discuss yesterday's bruising Commons session.

He said in Luxembourg: "We will take this time, calmly and seriously, to find this global agreement in the next weeks".

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, May had said a deal was "achievable" while sticking to her principles on the Irish border issue.

EU Council President Donald Tusk says "creative" thinking is required to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

"These are absolutely crucial days ahead in the history of our country and we must be absolutely focused on achieving a sensible Brexit deal and holding the government to account, but the type of reckless language being bandied about by some members of the DUP does nothing to win friends for unionism when we need every friend we can get".

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