UK PM mulls longer transition as European Union demands Brexit progress

Sorcha Eastwood of the Alliance Party

Tusk advised May that "creative" thinking from Britain was required to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, the issue that has brought divorce negotiations to a standstill.

Negotiators will try to find a form of words to say that as long as the transition is extended long enough for Britain and European Union to agree a free trade deal, the backstop will never be used.

The EU is now aiming for the December summit to get the deal done, according to one of the officials, though the idea of a November meeting hasn't been ruled out.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium.

"We hope extended transition will not be needed", May added.

Britain says it has not asked for an extension, but May has not yet come up with proposals for unblocking the border logjam.

Unlike the special protocol on Gibraltar, which will be annexed to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, the memorandums are not an essential part of the Brexit deal.

Mrs May said that the option of an extension of the transition had been floated as a way to bridge any gap between the end of 2020 and the start of a deal on the future EU/UK relationship, to ensure there was no hard border in Ireland during this time.

May committed past year to keeping the border open between the two parts of the island of Ireland, even if Britain leaves the bloc without an exit agreement or a free trade deal.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk has previously indicated that if May and Barnier do not make significant progress towards a draft deal he will not call the planned November summit.

He added that "this is giving us some room to prepare the future relations in the best way possible".

He explained how Mrs May had repeated her insistence that she would not assent to anything that would leave Northern Ireland in the EU's customs jurisdiction without the rest of the UK.

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Bertie Armstrong of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation said: "The EU must not be permitted to misuse the time when the United Kingdom is in the Brexit waiting room to try to place conditions on the return of fish stocks that are rightfully ours".

May's suggestion that she'd be willing to extend the Brexit transition period by up to one year has predictably led to outrage among Conservative MPs and cries of "I told you so" from the opposition.

The Prime Minister was understood to have discussed pushing the end of the so-called "implementation period" beyond its current December 2020 deadline.

European Union leaders also underscored their support for Barnier and the importance of maintaining a united front behind him - a further rebuff to the UK's attempts to peel off support from individual member states.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is still hopeful of negotiating a withdrawal deal from the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic that a deal could be struck to avoid the potentially catastrophic prospect of Britain crashing out without agreement.

Striking a Brexit deal that a majority feel happy with was always going to be a tough task, but few are enthusiastically rallying round May's negotiation.

But officials said she made no such offer, instead pointing to progress made so far and urging them to have "courage" to find a deal.

Still some issues remaining on backstop.

"Support for Michel Barnier [EU negotiator] to continue the negotiations is strong, support for Ireland and the Irish backstop is still very strong".

In a speech in London on Tuesday evening, John Major, a former Conservative Prime Minister, said the Brexit vote was a "colossal misjudgment" and that Brexit-backers sold the country a fantasy and would not be forgiven.

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