UK PM seeking to extend Brexit transition period

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British Prime Minister Theresa May is weighing up a plan to stay tied to European Union rules for longer in a radical move created to break the deadlock in Brexit talks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mrs May declined to put any fixed date on the possible extension to the UK's transition period, which she has said could last "a matter of months" into 2021. "It is a good idea".

"But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020". "But the extended transition period could not be a substitute for a backstop".

Will the proposal solve anything?

Senior civil servants have told ministers to start implementing contingency plans for a no-deal by the end of this month, regardless of any tentative deal struck before then.

The stalemate over the Northern Ireland border leaves negotiations at an impasse and increases the likelihood that Britain will leave Europe in March with no deal.

The EU and the United Kingdom have agreed they do not want a return to a hard border, where passport and customs checks would be returned, but they can not agree how to achieve that.

Reaching agreement with the bloc is only part of the British leader's problem. They also impinge on the legally binding Good Friday agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland and in some senses pooled sovereignty of Northern Ireland giving people a birthright to be Irish or British or both.

But she failed to respond to a call by EU President Donald Tusk for "concrete proposals" of her own to move the talks forward.

"As long as we don't have a satisfactory solution we can not really explain in a satisfactory way how this is to come about but I think where there is a will there is a way".

"You are making an assumption about what the insurance policy would include and the insurance policy actually being applied", he told the BBC on Thursday.

Michael Russell, Scotland's Brexit Minister, said that the latest infighting from the Conservatives were "another humiliation from the Prime Minster" adding that "it is extraordinary that there is more unity among 27 European Union nations than there is among the Prime Minister's own cabinet".

Striking a Brexit deal that a majority feel happy with was always going to be a tough task, but few are enthusiastically rallying round May's negotiation. Britain would have to negotiate this but it has been estimated at anywhere between £10bn and £17bn.

They insisted Britain must avoid the "purgatory of perpetual membership of the EU's customs union".

May addressed leaders of other EU member states on Wednesday evening on the first day of the European Council summit.

A DUP MP has said the prime minister "must be mad" after Theresa May suggested a delay to the UK's departure from the European Union in order to deal with the Irish border issue.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, the prime minister's de facto deputy, admitted the cost of extending the transition period would have to be "teased out" during negotiations.

Brexiteer-in-chief and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said that it would delay full withdrawal nearly until the general election scheduled for May 2022 and "may mean we never leave at all".

Mrs May initially suggested an "implementation period" of around two years after Brexit, to give the UK's authorities and companies time to prepare for the new arrangements.

This prospect has increased dramatically since last Sunday's talks between Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and European Union negotiator Michel Barnier failed to break the deadlock.

It might be hard for May to convince her Cabinet and parliament of an extension of the transition period, however.

Theresa May is facing an angry backlash from Tory MPs on all sides, as well as her Northern Irish DUP allies, over the suggestion the transition could last longer, extending beyond December 2020.

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