European Union leader's scathing put-down sums up Theresa May's Brexit talks

Reuters               European Parliament President Antonia Tajani

Reuters European Parliament President Antonia Tajani

We have made enormous progress.

But in the U.K., Brexiteers reacted with outrage to the idea of an extension, raising doubts that it would be approved by Parliament.

"Now the key element for a final deal is on the British side".

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.

Both sides have suggested compromises, but this has still not brought an end to the deadlock.

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.

One EU diplomat closely involved in the negotiations said May's intervention had revived spirits after the disappointments of the weekend: "The atmosphere has improved".

This week's summit has always been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification before Brexit day in March.

British PM Theresa May appeared to open the way to extend the post-Brexit transition period until December 2021, as European Union leaders offered an olive branch to her in a bid to break the impasse during the European Union summit on Wednesday (17 October).

Reuters also reported that European Union leaders would discuss support for free trade, the Iran nuclear deal and combating global warming, but also forging relationships with China, Japan and Russian Federation as a counterbalance to a more protectionist United States.

France did not rule out a possible lengthening of Britain's post-Brexit transition period if it helps advance negotiations with London, but any extension would come with conditions, an official in President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Thursday.

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But like so many other Brexit encounters, a pre-dinner meeting Wednesday between Britain's Theresa May and the 27 other national leaders of the European Union passed without the bang of a grand finale or without a breakthrough on Britain's future relationship with its most important trading partners.

In the same breath, Mr Barnier admitted: "I'm convinced a deal is necessary, I'm still not sure we'll get one".

Despite the lack of progress, the mood music at the summit was positive.

"It is always the case in negotiations that they are tense and hard and challenging at the end".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic that a deal could be struck to avoid the potentially catastrophic prospect of Britain crashing out without agreement.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis and other from May's party warned the prime minister not to "engage in a show of resistance and a choreographed argument followed by surrender" to the EU.

Arriving for a second day of talks, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a "backstop" plan to avoid frontier checks with Ireland if and until a new trade deal could be signed that resolves the issue. But they have yet to figure out how to do that once the U.K.is out of the EU's single market, which allows for the free movement of people, goods and services.

The EU says the solution is to keep Northern Ireland inside a customs union with the bloc, but Britain rejects that because it would mean customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Just a month after the humiliating Salzburg summit, where her Brexit proposals were roundly dismissed by European Union leaders, Mrs May admitted there were "more hard moments" to come before agreement is reached.

In a lighthearted moment, they were joined by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and his Luxembourg neighbor Xavier Bettel, who is said to have picked up the tab because he was celebrating his re-election on Sunday. "They do not know themselves what they really want".

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