'Not enough progress' as Theresa May insists Brexit deal still possible

The possibility of an extension made front-page news in Britain on Thursday and some eurosceptic MPs warned they could not accept such a plan. But she said she didn't believe the extension would be needed.

May has been struggling since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union to reconcile the demands of her eurosceptic Conservative party with the realities of negotiating with Brussels.

The Irish government is insisting the border remain open as Britain agreed to removing checkpoints in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement - a peace deal struck between London, Dublin and most political parties and armed factions in Northern Ireland that brought to an end decades of violence in Northern Ireland. The choice now being offered by Brussels is a choice between "two exquisitely embarrassing varieties of humiliation": an option of either "treating Northern Ireland as an economic colony of the European Union, or treating the whole of the United Kingdom as such a colony".

The possibility of an extension has infuriated hard-Brexit backers in Ms.

"If Theresa May is asking for a longer transition period, she is stalling", said Tory MP Nadine Dorries. I've done my bit.

She has been rebuffed by the European Union, however, and has now proposed - without prior consultation with her Cabinet - to extend her so-called "transition period" after Brexit, during which Britain will effectively remain an EU member but lose its representation and votes in the EU's institutions, to give her more time to find a solution acceptable to Brussels.

Such a move would be "politically toxic" for many Brexiteer Tory MPs, says Mehreen Khan in the Financial Times. One leading Conservative Remainer told BI: "It's daft". 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.

Theresa May returns to Westminster on Friday facing one of the most risky weeks of her premiership, with Conservative MPs from all sides of the party losing patience in her handling of Brexit.

They added: "This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail".

"What we are doing is working to get solution on the backstop".

The Prime Minister was due to address leaders of the 27 remaining EU states before they discuss Brexit in her absence at the European Council on Wednesday evening.

Mrs McEntee told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster that Mrs May had reaffirmed her commitment to the backstop on Wednesday night.

Updated: UK prime minister says post-Brexit transition could be extended

Macron, who held separate talks with May ahead of the three-hour dinner, said it was time to "accelerate" talks.

"These were always going to be tough negotiations and they were always going to get tougher as we got to the closing stages", Mrs May said in a press conference.

But May was under attack from across Britain's political spectrum after saying she was considering the European Union proposal for a longer post-Brexit transition period.

However, in reality, the prime minister had little choice but to ask for an extension. "But the extended transition period could not be a substitute for a backstop".

"She's between a rock and a hard place", Finland's former prime minister Alexander Stubb said of May, in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition.

Mr Hunt told Today the transition was not the main issue that needed to be resolved, which remained the so-called Northern Ireland "backstop" meant to ensure there was no return of a "hard border" with the Republic.

May has repeatedly ruled out extending what she calls an implementation period, but at least one of her ministers has indicated he may support such a step. "We need to know what the other side wants - finally".

The party's Europe spokesman added: "Rather than attempting to fudge her way through the negotiations, the PM should be using these meetings to constructively engage with our European Union neighbours and to bring forward serious plans".

A spokesperson for the centre-right EPP, the largest group in the parliament, said any Brexit deal will only be blocked "if there are no clear conditions to avoid a border in Ireland".

The EU is firmly behind Ireland.

So it looks like - for now at least - May will continue to try and thrash out a deal with the EU.

  • Leroy Wright