Brexit: UK 'may consider longer transition period'

Liam Fox suggested that by extending the transition period Britain could avoid the need to implement a backstop

Liam Fox suggested that by extending the transition period Britain could avoid the need to implement a backstopHANNAH MCKAY REUTERS

It's reported in the Irish Independent today that the idea of extending the two year Brexit transition by one year is being considered to provide more time to develop a temporary customs arrangement between the European Union and the UK.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said "much more time" was needed, and that he would continue working "calmly and patiently". "We need time, we need much more time..."

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said any extension to the transition period could delay full withdrawal nearly until the general election scheduled for May 2022, and "may mean we never leave at all".

RTE has reported that Mrs May has told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that she accepts that any backstop can not be temporary.

Barnier warned ahead of the European Union summit in Brussels that the Brexit negotiators needed "much more time" to complete a deal.

Progress has been made on a number of issues in the UK's withdrawal agreement, Mrs McEntee said and negotiations will now intensify, RTÉ understands.

"But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020".

With the talks stalled and little prospect of a quickening of pace, many Brexit supporters and critics of Britain's departure are airing their frustration over an exit which some campaigners had said would be an easy deal.

No EU leader reacted to May's speech, as has been the tradition with the Brexit discussions at EU level.

May spoke a day after Tusk implored her to present new ideas for resolving the tricky problem of how to keep the land border between the Republic of Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland friction-free once Britain no longer is an European Union member.

But Mrs May has not come forward with the new "concrete proposals" demanded by European Council president Donald Tusk, instead telling fellow leaders that "courage, trust and leadership" are needed on both sides to find a solution.

He conceded "we are not so far" from a deal but cautioned that "now we must accelerate the work".

Brexit must be orderly for everyone and for all the issues, including on the island of Ireland.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is desperate to make the Brexit deal work.

The EU hopes an extended transition will be enough to help May accept its plan for the Irish border, an official said.

But even extending the transition period led to a compromise between May and the EU-27, there is no guarantee that she would be able to sell such a deal to her divided Conservative party.

After her Chequers plan for Brexit was humiliatingly rejected at the last European Union summit in Salzburg last month and efforts to seal a last-minute deal foundered last weekend over the EU's demand for a "backstop" to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

It's also thought that May agreed that there can not be a time limit on the Northern Ireland backstop, as agreed last December as an insurance policy.

Ms May had lost her Conservative Party's majority in last year's election and risks a damaging defeat that could trigger a leadership contest, a so-called no-deal Brexit and even a new election.

Forced to remain inside the union, the United Kingdom will have to pay tens of billions more into the EU budget and can not strike trade deals - seen as a major economic advantage of Brexit - and will be forced to follow many EU rules and laws, with no say in setting them.

The drinks in Le Roy d'Espagne bar followed one of the shortest summit gatherings in recent memory, which finished at about 10pm, allowing leaders to spend more time socialising than they had discussing Brexit. "They do not know themselves what they really want".

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