British PM Theresa May tells business leaders European Union wants autumn Brexit deal

Dexeu               The letter from Dominic Raab

Dexeu The letter from Dominic Raab

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said that "we need much time, much more time, and we continue to work in the next weeks".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One, Mr Collins said: "We were told after the 2016 referendum, during the 2017 general election and afterwards by the Government that we would take control of our waters just like any other natural resource in March 2019".

On Thursday British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many of her Tory MPs, when she revealed one option that had emerged from talks in Brussels with the 27 European Union leaders, was an extension of the "implementation [or transition] period for a matter of months" - in an effort to break the deadlock over the Irish border issue.

British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her fellow EU leaders no new Brexit proposals on Wednesday, though she appeared keen to reach an agreement, the head of the European Parliament said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said at a Brexit summit she will consider an extension of several months to the proposed transition period, which now stands at 21 months.

He said he was open to the idea of extending the transition period between the formal Brexit date in March and the date when the UK's new relationship with Europe begins in earnest.

"We are talking in a matter of months, we are not talking in a matter of years", he said.

Whether it be staying in the customs union to avoid creating a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or organising a comprehensive border around Ireland, May's proposals are being met with strong domestic opposition.

The two-day European Council summit was expected to be a "moment of truth" for both sides reaching agreement.

A senior United Kingdom official stressed that the Prime Minister is not herself proposing any extension to the period already agreed, and declined to say how many months she regarded as the maximum she would consider.

She also faces a rebellion from her parliamentary partners, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which has threatened to vote against her government's budget if she concedes to the EU's demands over the backstop.

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May expressed hope that it could be all but negotiated away by the two sides agreeing a close future partnership, which would ensure borders that are as frictionless as possible.

The French Government yesterday published draft no-deal legislation that could require British citizens to obtain a visa before travelling to France following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

"And now the issue of Ireland remains open", Barnier added.

In a note to clients on Friday, RBC analysts said there had been no improvement in Britain's export performance despite sterling tumbling and remaining weak since the British voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Addressing reporters in Brussels, Mrs May said: "What has now emerged is the idea that an option to extend the implementation period could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Mrs May of failing "to meet the deadline she herself set for a Brexit deal".

"Today, we do not know what they want", she said.

The diplomats said that Barnier had revealed his offer to European Union ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg on Wednesday.

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".

Both sides think an extension would allow for more time to find a solution to the Irish border.

She is hemmed in by pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party, who oppose any more compromises with the bloc, and by her parliamentary allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who insist a solution to the border issue can't include customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

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