Brexit Transition Extension 'Probably Will Happen' Says EU Commission President

Downing Street has admitted a breakthrough on Brexit is unlikely

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz also claimed that "a lot of what May said was already known to us".

Theresa May has insisted her Chequers proposals are not "dead", as she faced accusations her Government is "too weak and too divided" to ensure there is no hard border in Northern Ireland.

As EU leaders gathered yet again in Brussels yesterday, they conceded that hopes of a deal are again being pushed back, this time perhaps until December.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker briefed the leaders on the EU executive's plans for a no-deal scenario.

As he arrived for the Brussels meeting, Barnier had said "we need time, we need much more time" for talks, vowing to work "calmly and patiently" for a deal in the coming weeks.

However, Mrs Merkel also advised "each and every one ought to prepare" for the possibility of a "no-deal" Brexit, while Mr Macron also spoke of how France was preparing for a United Kingdom departure without an agreement.

The idea of extending the transition would be to give more time to negotiate a deal on future relations and find a formula to defuse the Irish border question.

"The EU27 leaders stand ready to convene a European Council, if and when the union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made".

A summit in Brussels between British Prime Minister Theresa May and her 27 European counterparts failed to reach an agreement on the border, with Mrs May proposing to extend the UK's transition out of the EU "by a matter of months".

At present the two sides say Britain will remain inside the European Union single market, and subject to the bloc's regulations, from the day it leaves on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.

Despite the stalemate, Tusk tried to sound upbeat in his press conference - a contrast to his remarks at the close of a summit in Salzburg last month when said May's plan for a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union would not work.

"I think we are both of the understanding that this is an insurance policy and obviously we want to address all of these issues in a future relationship", she said.

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Mr Tajani also mentioned how Mrs May had shown a willingness to look into the possibility of extending the transition period following Brexit.

"We want a Brexit that is good for the union in all of its constituent parts, but that also respects the constitutional and economic integrity of Northern Ireland", she added.

The prime minister will be in Brussels until Friday in an attempt to make progress in Brexit negotiations.

May has tried to maintain an optimistic tone when speaking about the U.K.'s pending exit, touting progress in the complicated talks even as she acknowledges the stark divide between the two sides' positions.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire optimistically declared "we are not far from a deal" on the morning of the summit.

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

"My working assumption is not that we will have a no-deal, a no-deal would be risky for Britain and the European Union".

The proposed 12-month extension would cost billions of pounds in EU fees and leave Britain under European rules for nearly six years after the referendum result.

Ms. May has balked at the backstop, arguing it would isolate Northern Ireland from the rest of the country. Others at the bar managed to capture videos of the four leaders enjoying themselves and, naturally, posted them online.

However, in reality, the prime minister had little choice but to ask for an extension.

In her post-summit press conference Theresa May said the idea of having the option to extend the transition period could be "a further solution" to the search for a "backstop" to ensure no hard border.

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