Theresa May gets Brussels kiss-off as she fails to break Brexit deadlock

Skating Minister Robert Walker's legacy is about much more than mouse mats and mugs

Brexit talks have stalled over how to deal with their only land border - between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland - less than six months before Britain quits the European Union in its biggest policy shift in more than 40 years.

But with Brexit talks at an impasse, the bloc has suggested extending that period, to give more time to strike a trade deal that ensures the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains friction-free - the main sticking point to a Brexit deal.

But Mr Barnier rejected the plan and insisted the EU's proposal to remain the only option due to worries a UK-wide arrangement could lapse before the trade deal is finalised.

"A further idea which has emerged - and it is only an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months and it would only be a matter of months", the email read.

"We are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020", she said.

If a withdrawal agreement is reached, a transition period would kick in after next March, which has been planned to end in December 2020.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani confirmed that both sides had mooted the idea of extending the transition period by an additional year.

Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to Brussels on Wednesday and was given 30 minutes behind closed doors to make another appeal to her European counterparts.

"My working assumption is not that we will have a no-deal, a no-deal would be risky for Britain and the European Union".

A day earlier, she had issued a dramatic unity plea to ministers, calling on them to "stand together" for the sake of a Brexit deal, after a three-hour-long cabinet meeting ahead of the crucial 48 hours of Brexit talks. "We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively", she said.

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Juncker and Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, declined to comment on the likely size of the divorce bill the United Kingdom would have to pay in the event of a longer transition.

The chancellor said, "It is only fitting as a responsible and forward-thinking government leadership that we prepare for every scenario - that includes the possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement".

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said "we need much time, much more time, and we continue to work in the next weeks".

Mrs May, who had been called upon to table new proposals on the Irish Border backstop, was thought to have been "developing her thinking".

The mooted extension to the transition period is a new idea being put forward by the European Union to help Theresa May square the circle created by the written agreement last December and the draft withdrawal agreement in March.

In other news, the Daily Mirror carries an interview with the mother of poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal, who says she fears she will never see her son again.

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

"The only answer to public disillusionment with how Brexit has not lived up to what they voted for is a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal".

Staunch Conservative Brexiteer Nadine Dorries urged MPs to oust May as Conservative party leader and prime minister if she accepts a longer transition period.

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