Prime Minister Theresa May has called for “cool, calm heads” as she insisted a Brexit deal was still “still achievable” despite differences with the EU.
Ahead of the key summit of European leaders on Wednesday, Brussels is giving Britain a day to settle its position on Brexit before deciding how to respond to May’s dramatic move to ‘disengage’ from talks on an EU exit agreement.
The negotiations broke down at the weekend – just days before a set piece summit – when the Prime Minister sent Brexit secretary Dominic Raab alongside the negotiating team to Brussels to make it clear that she could not sign up to a ‘Backstop’ plan to avoid an Irish hard border.
Although, the Prime Minister seems positive that the issue could not ‘derail’ the chances of striking a deal. She said it was ‘frustrating’ the two sides could not agree how to guarantee no hard border in Northern Island.
She sought to reassure critics that of her approach that the UK would not end up stuck in ‘permanent limbo’ tied to EU customs rules.
However, leader of the Scottish party, Nicola Sturgeon has called for an extension of the proposed 21-month Brexit transition period to give the UK government more time to negotiate a future relationship with the EU.
She said: “If the last two years have shown us anything, it is surely that more time with inevitably be needed to agree the future relationship, and so being able to extend the transition period will be vital to avoid another cliff-edge scenario”.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned a deal looking ‘more difficult’ because of the border issue.
“If it doesn’t work out this week, we must continue negotiation, that is clear – but time is pressing.” She added.
Theresa May told MP’s the EU had ‘responded positively’ to her proposal for a UK-wide arrangement – but that it was insisting on keeping a specific arrangement for Northern Ireland on the table.
Despite this, she said she did not think the two sides were far apart, adding: “I continue to believe a negotiated deal is the best outcome for the UK and the EU and that such a deal is achievable, and that is the spirit in which I will continue to work with our European partners.”