Brexit: UK 'may consider longer transition period'

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 18, 2018

May spoke of "working intensively over the next days and weeks" to achieve agreement that avoids a no-deal departure from the bloc for Britain on March 29 that could create chaos at the borders and in the economy.

The Netherlands and France have already drafted emergency laws to deal with the border, customs and immigration consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

To solve the Irish question, Britain has proposed staying temporarily aligned to the EU's customs rules, but the bloc wants this to have no end date - something her euroskeptic MPs will not accept.

Mrs May's future as Prime Minister appears to be staked on the success of her Brexit negotiations - with infighting within her own party threatening her position.

This week's summit has always been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification before Brexit day in March.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said: "We took our steps".

May will meet one-on-one with Tusk at 5:45 pm (1545 GMT) before briefing her 27 European colleagues, but then the rest of the EU leaders will leave to discuss Brexit over dinner without her.

Mr Corbyn said International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have refused to say they backed the Chequers plan, joking: "Maybe she could share a pizza with them and sort it out". They want to use it to slash rights and protections and turbocharge their bankers-first market free-for-all. "That is the problem".

For many who campaigned to leave the European Union, the idea of continuing to pay into the bloc well beyond Britain leaves in March next year is anathema.

May said that while there would be more "difficult moments" as the negotiations reached their final stages, she was still confident a "good deal" would be struck. She told reporters that "most of the issues" in the withdrawal agreement have been resolved - apart from the Irish border.

The growing understanding on both sides is that by granting more time in the implementation period to agree a new UK-EU trade relationship would help avoid the more problematic issue of the Northern Irish backstop. Disagreement over the backstop has brought divorce negotiations to a standstill.

The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on March 29 2019, with a transition period in place until the end of 2020.

And a French official said any extension would come with conditions attached - it would not be automatic, it would be decided closer to the time and that it would have to be agreed by the leaders of the 27 other European Union nations, probably unanimously.

If the United Kingdom leaves the EU along with the customs union and the single market then the border in Ireland becomes the only land border between the United Kingdom and the EU forcing customs, tax and regulatory controls.

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.

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

The St Austell and Newquay MP said: "The tourism and hospitality sector is very concerned that they will be able to continue to access the seasonal workforce they need once we leave the EU".

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