50’ – which would breakthrough dating a huge blow to the Prime Minister and derails today’s crunch talks in Brussels. Dublin over the UK’s future border with Ireland. She will then hold further talks with EU Council president Donald Tusk, who represents the interests of the remaining 27 member states.
The PM is also expected to telephone Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose last-minute threat to veto progress over border issues has thrown the careful choreography of a deal into chaos. 50’ – which would be a huge blow to the Prime Minister. Mr Varadkar and Mrs May were expected to speak by phone before he chaired a special Cabinet meeting at 9am today. But EU sources have said that after talks through the night have failed to find agreement on four key areas, including a solid commitment to avoid a hard border between North and South when Britain leaves the EU. If there is no agreement today the best case scenario is that it is sorted this week – the worst case scenario is that any agreement is pushed into the new year. In return, she is demanding assurances that Brussels will agree a comprehensive trade deal.
But, despite round-the-clock talks this weekend, key differences remain between the two sides, particularly over the Irish border. A Government spokesman said today’s meetings were now seen as no more than a ‘staging post’ ahead of a summit of EU leaders next week. Information around the transition period of the UK exiting the EU. Agreement on rights associated with the Common Travel Area, and what the arrangements would be on this. A commitment that would see the Good Friday Agreement protected.
Single Market and Customs Union can’t diverge. The spokesman said there were ‘plenty of discussions still to go’ before a deal is struck. Ministers are alarmed by the lack of a breakthrough. Some, including the Brexit Secretary David Davis, are warning privately that Mrs May will have to walk away if there is no agreement at next week’s EU summit. One source familiar with the talks said: ‘If we don’t make sufficient progress at this stage then the process is over.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday warned Eurosceptic MPs not to limit Mrs May’s room for manoeuvre. The choice we face is not between this Brexit or that Brexit,’ he said. If we don’t back Theresa May we will have no Brexit, and she is doing an unbelievably challenging job amazingly well. Mr Hunt’s intervention came as 30 Eurosceptics set down seven ‘red lines’ over Brexit.
The Leave Means Leave group said Mrs May should not make any payment to Brussels unless she received clear pledges in return, including a free trade deal and agreement that the UK would not have to accept any new EU regulations or European court rulings during a two-year transition period. Signatories of the letter include former cabinet ministers Lord Lawson, John Redwood and Owen Paterson. They urge Mrs May to abandon the talks completely and go for a no-deal Brexit if Brussels refuses to agree terms next week. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Today’s talks are designed to determine whether ‘sufficient progress’ has been made on three key issues to persuade the EU to move on to trade talks. Dublin signs off on the joint EU-British ‘text’ meaning talks move on to Phase 2. Dublin cannot agree text but agreement is secured later this week.
Talks break down and it is pushed into the new year – throwing Theresa May’s Brexit timetable into chaos. The issues at the centre of the row are the size of the divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The divorce bill is now seen as the most straightforward issue, with EU sources indicating Brussels is ready to accept Mrs May’s revised offer. But differences remain on citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister had hoped to offer a ‘compromise’ on citizens’ rights, which would give the European Court of Justice a minor, indirect role. But she has not yet persuaded her cabinet to sign it off. The deal would allow the UK’s Supreme Court to ask the ECJ for guidance in cases brought by EU citizens where there is no existing case law.