Theresa May says 'maybe' to transition period extension — European Union summit

Theresa May makes a statement on Brexit negotiations

Theresa May makes a statement on Brexit negotiations

"We have got to find a way of addressing the border question but, I repeat, we must have an agreement on the backstop".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in words later cited by Mrs May, said: "Where there's a will, there should be a way, and normally there is a way".

"I'm clear that it is possible to do that (deal) and that is what we are working for. If you don't have an agreement you don't have a satisfactory answer [to the border issue] either".

At a dinner with fellow European Union leaders in Brussels, Mr Varadkar had circulated a newspaper article about an IRA bomb attack at a customs post in Newry, Co Down in 1972.

Mr Barnier told France Inter radio:."Ninety percent of the accord on the table has been agreed with Britain".

"I'm convinced a deal is necessary, I'm still not sure we'll get one", he said.

"It's very important that business leaders hear first hand rather than hearing through reports that can often be confused", said Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors.

The taoiseach said he took a copy of The Irish Times to dinner with the leaders to demonstrate his point about a hard border.

"These issues are still pending, but in the talks I had this morning with Prime Minister Theresa May, we encouraged one another to reach an agreement on two out of the four memorandums, those dealing with tax issues, which are the most flexible ones".

The DUP's deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, also heaped pressure on the under-fire prime minister with further criticism of the proposal to extend the transition period, stressing that it offers "nothing significant" on the backstop proposals.

European Union leaders warned Britain they would offer no more concessions to break the deadlock in negotiations, but expressed confidence that a deal can be done before the country leaves the bloc next March. Boles added: "They are close to despair at the state of this negotiation", suggesting the PM is complicit in running the clock down for a "No deal" Brexit scenario.

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Sammy Wilson declared himself "appalled" with the Mrs May's handling of the negotiations, saying "she only has herself to blame" for the EU's "intransigent" stance.

Seeking to unblock Britain's stalled divorce talks with the EU, May said a proposed 21-month transition period for the United Kingdom after Brexit could be extended by 'a matter of months'.

"A longer transition [is] not an alternative to a legally-binding backstop..."

Arriving for a second day of summit talks in Brussels, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a "backstop" plan to avoid frontier checks in Ireland if and until a new trade deal could be signed.

Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement is viewed as potentially catastrophic as tariffs, customs and regulatory issues could severely disrupt trade.

Meanwhile, the son of a victim of IRA violence has also described the Taoiseach's comments as "ill advised".

"To use the emotive argument that a hard Border risks a return to the violence of the past is ill-considered and risky".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme, Mr Campbell said there has been no evidence whatsoever that violence is on the increase.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis is reportedly angling for a leadership challenge backed by angry pro-Brexit MPs like Nadine Dorries, who openly called for Davis to replace May on Thursday.

"We are trying to protect a very precious peace and normality on the island of Ireland", he said.

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