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EU: May must deliver 'creative solution' to save Brexit summit EU: May must deliver 'creative solution' to save Brexit summit
(about 2 months later)
Theresa May has been told that it is up to her to deliver a “creative solution” to break the impasse that threatens to leave Wednesday’s “moment of truth” Brexit summit of EU leaders collapsing around her.Theresa May has been told that it is up to her to deliver a “creative solution” to break the impasse that threatens to leave Wednesday’s “moment of truth” Brexit summit of EU leaders collapsing around her.
With the issue of the backstop to the Irish border derailing the negotiations, and the timeline slipping by the week, Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said he would demand fresh concrete proposals on the Irish border from the prime minister.With the issue of the backstop to the Irish border derailing the negotiations, and the timeline slipping by the week, Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said he would demand fresh concrete proposals on the Irish border from the prime minister.
Plans to outline a future trade deal during a leaders’ dinner on Wednesday night, a long-sought demand of Downing Street, have been scrapped. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the UK government had also failed to meet the conditions necessary for a special November Brexit summit to be called.Plans to outline a future trade deal during a leaders’ dinner on Wednesday night, a long-sought demand of Downing Street, have been scrapped. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the UK government had also failed to meet the conditions necessary for a special November Brexit summit to be called.
May calls for unity after getting cabinet backing for Brexit strategy
Tusk delivered his ultimatum despite the fact that May appears to remain in an impossible political position at home and unable to deliver progress on the crucial issue of the Northern Ireland-only backstop.Tusk delivered his ultimatum despite the fact that May appears to remain in an impossible political position at home and unable to deliver progress on the crucial issue of the Northern Ireland-only backstop.
The issue “looks like a new version of the Gordian knot”, Tusk told reporters in Brussels. “Unfortunately I cannot see a new version of Alexander the Great. As you know, it is not so easy to find this kind of creative leader.”The issue “looks like a new version of the Gordian knot”, Tusk told reporters in Brussels. “Unfortunately I cannot see a new version of Alexander the Great. As you know, it is not so easy to find this kind of creative leader.”
His intervention came on a day when May held a crucial cabinet meeting where she persuaded her colleagues to back her negotiating stance – for the time being. On Wednesday night she will address the EU 27 in an ante-room before they sit down to a dinner from which she is excluded.His intervention came on a day when May held a crucial cabinet meeting where she persuaded her colleagues to back her negotiating stance – for the time being. On Wednesday night she will address the EU 27 in an ante-room before they sit down to a dinner from which she is excluded.
Tusk spoke of his dismay at a debate in parliament on Monday during which MPs had expressed a lack of support for May’s Brexit plans, raising fresh fears that any deal brought back to parliament will be rejected.Tusk spoke of his dismay at a debate in parliament on Monday during which MPs had expressed a lack of support for May’s Brexit plans, raising fresh fears that any deal brought back to parliament will be rejected.
The prime minister in turn had dug in on her refusal to countenance the need for an “all-weather” solution being backed by Brussels, in which Northern Ireland stays in the customs union and single market should other options – such as a temporary EU-UK customs union – not come to pass.The prime minister in turn had dug in on her refusal to countenance the need for an “all-weather” solution being backed by Brussels, in which Northern Ireland stays in the customs union and single market should other options – such as a temporary EU-UK customs union – not come to pass.
“The report on the state of the negotiations that I got from Michel Barnier today, as well as yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons, give me no grounds for optimism before tomorrow’s European council on Brexit”, Tusk said. “And as I see it, the only source of hope for a deal – for now – is the goodwill and determination on both sides.“The report on the state of the negotiations that I got from Michel Barnier today, as well as yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons, give me no grounds for optimism before tomorrow’s European council on Brexit”, Tusk said. “And as I see it, the only source of hope for a deal – for now – is the goodwill and determination on both sides.
“However, for a breakthrough to take place, besides goodwill, we need new facts. Tomorrow, I am going to ask prime minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse. Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible … I hope tomorrow prime minister May will present something creative enough to solve this impasse.”“However, for a breakthrough to take place, besides goodwill, we need new facts. Tomorrow, I am going to ask prime minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse. Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible … I hope tomorrow prime minister May will present something creative enough to solve this impasse.”
Tusk scorned the suggestion that Boris Johnson could be the figure to rescue the situation should there be a leadership challenge. The ex-foreign secretary’s suggestions that the EU was seeking to annex Northern Ireland or divide the UK were “of course, not the truth”, he said.Tusk scorned the suggestion that Boris Johnson could be the figure to rescue the situation should there be a leadership challenge. The ex-foreign secretary’s suggestions that the EU was seeking to annex Northern Ireland or divide the UK were “of course, not the truth”, he said.
Brussels had carefully planned a path to a deal after seven days of intense and secret talks between negotiators but developments on Sunday, when the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, refused to sign off on an agreement on the Irish border, have brought those to a halt, with a close to the cliff-edge December finale to the talks now looking ever more likely.Brussels had carefully planned a path to a deal after seven days of intense and secret talks between negotiators but developments on Sunday, when the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, refused to sign off on an agreement on the Irish border, have brought those to a halt, with a close to the cliff-edge December finale to the talks now looking ever more likely.
Theresa May chairs Brexit cabinet as EU says no deal 'more likely than ever before' - Politics live
“Since there is no agreement on the Irish backstop there will not be an outline of joint political declaration on the table on Wednesday evening … [that] will not change before Wednesday,” a senior EU official said.“Since there is no agreement on the Irish backstop there will not be an outline of joint political declaration on the table on Wednesday evening … [that] will not change before Wednesday,” a senior EU official said.
For a November summit to go ahead, the EU had demanded “maximum progress” on the withdrawal agreement.For a November summit to go ahead, the EU had demanded “maximum progress” on the withdrawal agreement.
In Luxembourg, where he briefed EU ministers on the state of the negotiations, Barnier said his benchmark for success had not been reached. “We are not there yet. There are several subjects that remain open, including Ireland,” he said.In Luxembourg, where he briefed EU ministers on the state of the negotiations, Barnier said his benchmark for success had not been reached. “We are not there yet. There are several subjects that remain open, including Ireland,” he said.
Germany’s EU minister, Michael Roth, said Berlin was aware the prime minister was constrained by her domestic vulnerability. Asked what his message to May would be, he said: “Take responsibility and be constructive.”Germany’s EU minister, Michael Roth, said Berlin was aware the prime minister was constrained by her domestic vulnerability. Asked what his message to May would be, he said: “Take responsibility and be constructive.”
A December summit is now being seen as the likely last chance for a deal, although senior UK officials have suggested that such a timetable could make it all but impossible to get the necessary Brexit legislation through parliament in time for 29 March 2019.A December summit is now being seen as the likely last chance for a deal, although senior UK officials have suggested that such a timetable could make it all but impossible to get the necessary Brexit legislation through parliament in time for 29 March 2019.
In his update to the EU’s 27 EU affairs ministers, Barnier ran through the calendar, counting backwards from Brexit day on 29 March 2019. “December is the last possible moment it is legally and politically realistic to get a deal,” said a source familiar with his update.In his update to the EU’s 27 EU affairs ministers, Barnier ran through the calendar, counting backwards from Brexit day on 29 March 2019. “December is the last possible moment it is legally and politically realistic to get a deal,” said a source familiar with his update.
Barnier told ministers at the closed-door meeting he wanted to reassess the progress of Brexit talks in about two weeks. The option of a “no-deal” summit in November is still open and will be discussed by leaders on Wednesday. He also suggested to the EU ministers that he had offered an extension of the transition beyond 2020, as first revealed by the Guardian.Barnier told ministers at the closed-door meeting he wanted to reassess the progress of Brexit talks in about two weeks. The option of a “no-deal” summit in November is still open and will be discussed by leaders on Wednesday. He also suggested to the EU ministers that he had offered an extension of the transition beyond 2020, as first revealed by the Guardian.
Tusk’s doom-laden comments were not wholly echoed by diplomats among the member states. Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, suggested the pause in the talks was a tactic by May to find political space for a final concession.Tusk’s doom-laden comments were not wholly echoed by diplomats among the member states. Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, suggested the pause in the talks was a tactic by May to find political space for a final concession.
A French government official suggested that a November summit could happen, should there be movement by the UK on the Irish issue in the coming weeks.A French government official suggested that a November summit could happen, should there be movement by the UK on the Irish issue in the coming weeks.
Poland’s EU affairs minister, Konrad Szymański, said he believed a deal was still possible in November – but he noted the DUP’s threat to vote down the budget as a hurdle to progress. Urging diplomatic language from all involved, he said: “In a sensitive process such as this, every word might negatively influence the chances to reach an agreement.Poland’s EU affairs minister, Konrad Szymański, said he believed a deal was still possible in November – but he noted the DUP’s threat to vote down the budget as a hurdle to progress. Urging diplomatic language from all involved, he said: “In a sensitive process such as this, every word might negatively influence the chances to reach an agreement.
“We need to listen carefully to what Theresa May says. She is our negotiating partner, who, in good faith, is searching for an agreement as well. This is the perspective which we should apply during Wednesday’s dinner.”“We need to listen carefully to what Theresa May says. She is our negotiating partner, who, in good faith, is searching for an agreement as well. This is the perspective which we should apply during Wednesday’s dinner.”
Some EU diplomats suggested that drama was being injected into the process in order to strengthen May in her battle with her cabinet, rather than to weaken her.Some EU diplomats suggested that drama was being injected into the process in order to strengthen May in her battle with her cabinet, rather than to weaken her.
With such uncertainty in the process, the European commission, however, is expected to publish a new raft of “no deal” notices to alert businesses and member states on how to deal with the UK crashing out of the bloc. They had been held back for fear of upsetting the talks, at a point when progress had been detected.With such uncertainty in the process, the European commission, however, is expected to publish a new raft of “no deal” notices to alert businesses and member states on how to deal with the UK crashing out of the bloc. They had been held back for fear of upsetting the talks, at a point when progress had been detected.
Asked whether Tusk and the EU leaders would be careful to avoid repeating the outcome of the Salzburg summit, which was widely said to have been a humiliation for May, the EU official responded: “Sometimes you have the impression that telling the truth is showing a lack of respect, but we believe that it is on the contrary.”Asked whether Tusk and the EU leaders would be careful to avoid repeating the outcome of the Salzburg summit, which was widely said to have been a humiliation for May, the EU official responded: “Sometimes you have the impression that telling the truth is showing a lack of respect, but we believe that it is on the contrary.”
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