Published: Tue, October 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

UK: More than half a million gather in pro-EU march

UK: More than half a million gather in pro-EU march

To try to move the talks forward, May had earlier signalled she would consider extending a so-called transition period "for a matter of months" after Britain leaves the European Union in March, a move her critics called a betrayal but one which the bloc welcomed.

The lack of progress means a special European Union summit on Brexit that had been penciled in for next month has been scrapped, though European Union leaders said they would assess the situation later.

Arriving for the second day of the European Council summit, Mrs May made clear she would accept an extension only as a means to ensure there was no hard border in Ireland if it proved impossible to implement the future partnership by the end of 2020.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mrs May said an extension to the transition period "could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland".

She said she still expected the implementation period to come to an end, as scheduled, by December 2020.

"But I am still optimistic that we can find a solution for the Brexit issue in the coming weeks or months".

Now a transition phase is planned from Brexit next March until the end of December 2020, to allow time to sign a new EU-UK trade deal.

The Prime Minister took questions from businesses and representative bodies (Centrica, EY, Diageo, Enterprise Nation, RBS, Federation of Small Businesses, ITV, Aston Martin, Barratt Developments and Tesco) on topics such as the importance of frictionless trade, the implementation period and opportunities for the future.

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One long-term critic, Nadine Dorries MP, said it was time for her to let someone else - namely ex-Brexit secretary David Davis - negotiate instead. "No say on the budget or new laws, the epitome of the vassal state". Another former Conservative minister, Nick Boles, warned that May was "losing the confidence now of colleagues of all shades of opinion". "I remain confident of a good outcome", she told the leaders, according to a British official.

The transition - during which the United Kingdom would remain in the single market and customs union and subject to EU rules - is meant to provide time for authorities and officials to prepare for new arrangements following the official date of Brexit in March 2019.

Not only would a plot to oust May need the support of 50% of Conservative MPs - 159 politicians - to work, but it has been reported that the Cabinet has already given the controversial plan to extend the transition their backing. More like kicking the can further down the road and delaying, by a bit, driving off the cliff.

"We are close to the moment of truth".

"Time is of the essence, but still we do not have a solution on all fronts, for example we still have to deal with the Irish situation, there is still no really satisfactory answer to this; this can not be completely separated from the question of what our relationship is going to look like in the future".

When the other 27 European Union leaders met without her over dinner on Wednesday evening, they concluded that "not enough progress has been made" in the negotiations, an EU official said.

However, Brexiteers have reacted with anger at suggestions the UK's stay within the EU's structures could be lengthened beyond what had previously been agreed as a 21-month period.

He said there was also a security matter, whereby if a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is created in the same form as it was in the past, this could lead to terrorist attacks and violence - as used to happen during the Troubles, previous to the Good Friday Agreement.

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