After another week of those seemingly endless Brexit negotiations, what has happened?
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Despite the smiles and approving noises coming out of London and Brussels, the answer seems to be nothing has changed.
Neither side has given in and no deal has been reached.
Tory MPs are still growling at each other in anger about if Prime Minister Theresa May should ask for more time to sort out the thorny border problem between Eire and Northern Ireland.
Non-event dustbin of history
This week’s summit of the Euro 27 leaders in Brussels – effectively everyone in the Euro club except the UK – was supposed to be where a deal was rubber stamped, but now that’s been and consigned to the non-event dustbin of history.
All Theresa May has got is an admission she would consider a longer transition period beyond December 2020 to try and come to an agreement over the Irish border problem.
The Euro 27 have agreed to consider that as well.
The sticking points are in London and Belfast.
At Westminster, the Tories are squabbling over the exact wording of a transition agreement, while in Belfast, the Democratic Ulster Unionists underpinning May in Parliament do not seem to want to agree with anything.
European Council president Donald Tusk has released a statement that sums up where the talks are.
“After listening to Prime Minister May’s assessment of the state of the negotiations, the EU27 confirmed that we want to continue the talks in a positive spirit. Leaders expressed their full trust in Michel Barnier, and asked our negotiator to continue efforts to achieve an agreement. I stand ready to convene a European Council on Brexit, when the EU negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made. And we should be clear that, as for now, not enough progress has been made,” he said.
“As there is a lot of speculation about the length of the transition period once the UK leaves the EU, let me say this. The issue of the length of the transition period was not discussed among the EU27 leaders. But let me recall that in her Florence speech in September 2017, Prime Minister May proposed a transition period of around two years. The EU accepted this proposal unanimously. Therefore, if the UK decided that an extension of the transition period would be helpful to reach a deal, I am sure that the leaders would be ready to consider it positively.”
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