Theresa May offers to extend the Brexit transition period by another year

Theresa May offers to extend the Brexit transition period by another year”

"I believe a deal is achievable and now is the time to make it happen", said the prime minister as she arrived at a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

"There are issues remaining around the backstop", May told reporters on Thursday, referring to the debate over how to form a customs border between Ireland - which will remain in the European Union - and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland, without establishing a hard border between the two.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said European Union leaders had asked the bloc's executive "to work with even more vigour on a no deal scenario".

"If there is a gap between the end of the implementation period and the point at which the future relationship comes in - we don't expect a gap to exist, but if there is, we want to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", the Prime Minister told media yesterday.

But a longer transition would not necessarily resolve the backstop issue which must be included in the withdrawal treaty and ratified before the end of March to avoid the damaging "no deal" scenario.

"There are issues remaining around the backstop", Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters on Thursday, referring to the debate over how to treat Ireland and Northern Ireland when the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

The so-called "backstop" will apply if there is no proper EU-UK trade deal post Brexit.

"Many Conservative MPs are making clear to the government that we won't support legislation seeking to prolong transition and large payments for no good reason", said John Redwood, a Conservative Brexit supporter.

May said this proposal was unacceptable as it would create an array of new customs and regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, consequently undermining the constitutional integrity of the UK.

And one person familiar with the discussions said May's Tory party would find it hard to be fighting the next general election - due in 2022 - while the country is still inside the single market and customs union.

The leaders are expected to announce on Thursday whether or not they will hold a special summit in November to finalise a Brexit deal. "By working intensively and closely we can achieve that deal", she told reporters.

Anthony Wells, director of political research for YouGov, told the Evening Standard: "The slow trend of public opinion moving against Brexit we've seen over the previous year appears to be continuing".

A senior Labour source said, "We've not called for any extension and the only reason it's being discussed is because of the abject failure of the government's negotiating".

"Nothing new tonight", Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after an evening when not exacerbating divisions with Britain was seen as a victory in itself. In the event of a "no-deal Brexit", any transition period plans are liable to disintegrate.

A Conservative Eurosceptic has warned extending the Brexit transition period could cost the British taxpayer a "stratospheric" amount of money.

Britain says it has not asked for an extension - but didn't rule it out Wednesday.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that 2 ½ years after Britain's Brexit referendum, the country had still not explained clearly how it wants to leave the EU. "They do not know themselves what they really want".

Theresa May has insisted a Brexit deal remains "achievable" at the start of a European summit which has been overshadowed by a set back in negotiations.

Mrs O'Neill said: "In order to preserve her toxic alliance with the DUP, she is trampling over the rights of citizens by acquiescing to that party's refusal to share power (at Stormont) on the basis of equality".

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