Theresa May signals Brexit transition period could be extended in bid to break Irish border deadlock

Posted On: 
18th October 2018

Theresa May last night indicated that the UK could remain tied to EU rules for an extra 12 months in a bid to break the ongoing deadlock over the Irish border.

Theresa May travelled to Brussels yesterday in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock

In a move which angered Tory eurosceptics, the Prime Minister said she would be prepared to see the post-Brexit transition period extended until the end of 2021.

Mrs May made her move as she addressed the leaders of the other 27 EU member states at a summit in Brussels.

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But in a blow to the Prime Minister, EU chiefs all-but ruled out holding an emergency summit in November to finally sign off a Brexit deal after deciding there was little prospect of a breakthrough.

A source said: "The EU27 leaders stand ready to convene a European council, if and when the Union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made.

"For now, EU27 is not planning to organise an extraordinary summit on Brexit in November."

That means that the earliest a withdrawal agreement could potentially be agreed is at the next scheduled EU Council summit in December, just three months before Brexit on 29 March next year.

Speaking to reporters, the Prime Minister said: "We have shown we can do difficult deals together constructively. I remain confident of a good outcome.

"The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides."

Brexiteers reacted angrily to the news that Britain could remain tied to EU rules and laws till the end of 2021, with outspoken backbencher Nadine Dorries calling for the Prime Minister to stand down.

The Tory MP tweeted: "If Theresa May is asking for a longer transition period, she is stalling.

“It’s time to stand aside and let someone who can negotiate get on with it and deliver.”

Ms Dorries went on to back former Brexit Secretary David Davis as an “interim leader”.

Her Conservative colleague Andrea Jenkyns also hit out at the compromise on ITV’s Peston show, branding it “ridiculous”.