UK PM meets Macron ahead of Brexit talks

Liam Fox suggested that by extending the transition period Britain could avoid the need to implement a backstop

At present the two sides are proposing that Britain remain inside the European Union single market and bound by its rules from the time it leaves the bloc in March until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.

"If there is a gap between the end of the implementation period and the point at which the future relationship comes in - we don't expect a gap to exist, but if there is, we want to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", the Prime Minister told media yesterday. David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, said the idea was "unwise", and it was the wrong time to "take the pressure off" in the negotiations.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, May had said a deal was "achievable" while sticking to her principles on the Irish border issue.

Mr Wilson said that recent concerns had been expressed about the continuation of certain cross-border healthcare service, such as cancer treatment carried out in Londonderry, children's heart surgery carried out in Dublin, and other cooperative ventures in place between health departments in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

This week's summit had been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification in the Westminster and European parliaments.

Mrs May, who had been called upon to table new proposals on the Irish Border backstop, was thought to have been "developing her thinking".

European Union leaders have agreed that not enough progress has been achieved in Brexit negotiations to convene a special summit next month, but have called on negotiators to continue their work.

Under American trade law, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative must tell lawmakers what it hopes to achieve at least 30 days before talks formally begin. That they're trying to leave this so late that they can then credibly say there is no alternative but a no-deal Brexit and most people agree that would be chaos.

May was reported to have said the last stage would require "courage, trust and leadership on both sides" when it came to striking a deal.

Máirtin Ó Muilleoir, a Sinn Féin MLA, said that the DUP's efforts to thwart Mrs May in striking a Brexit deal that would ensure a free-flowing trade and regulatory border should be resisted.

"The problem is the Prime Minister", he said.

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After Brexit talks broke down last weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, "I believe in our collective intelligence, so I think we can make progress". A deal must be sealed soon so parliaments have time to give their verdict on it.

"But I am still optimistic that we can find a solution for the Brexit issue in the coming weeks or months".

"There's no need to dramatize matters. It's always the case with negotiations, that in the end there are challenges", Kurz said.

"Politically speaking, a will was expressed to move forward and reach agreement but there was nothing substantively new in terms of content", Tajani told reporters.

"We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively", she said.

Meanwhile, the top European Union trade official played down the importance of a US announcement that it will pursue a trade deal with Britain, noting London can not negotiate such pacts until it leaves the bloc.

The summit continues Thursday with an agenda limited to some issues both sides firmly agree on, including fighting cybercrime and dealing with an assertive Russian Federation.

If a withdrawal agreement is reached, a transition period would kick in after next March, which has been planned to end in December 2020.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said: "I'm cautiously optimistic that over the coming weeks Michel Barnier and the negotiating team in the United Kingdom will come to final conclusions".

It must also be approved by Britain's Parliament, where May lacks an overall majority. "People who have been supportive of her throughout this process, they are close to despair at the state of this negotiation", said Conservative lawmaker Nick Boles, a critic of May who during the referendum backed remaining in the European Union and now wants to stay in the single market on an interim basis. They do not know themselves what they want.

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