Brexit: What would an extended transition mean?

Theresa May

EU calls for new proposals from Theresa May to break Brexit deadlock

The choreography of Wednesday's summit opening emphasises British isolation.

LONDON - Theresa May is struggling to hold her government together as senior members of her cabinet openly meet to plot against her.

Mrs May will address the remaining 27 European Union leaders before Wednesday's Brussels meeting, which had been billed as "the moment of truth" for Brexit but now seems certain to pass without a deal on the UK's withdrawal.

The European Union's top trade official is playing down the importance of a USA announcement that it will pursue a trade deal with Britain, noting London can not negotiate such pacts until it leaves the bloc.

The prime minister heads to Brussels today with little expectation of unlocking the further progress on Brexit that had been hoped for this month.

Repeatedly she failed to answer the hard questions on Brexit, on Chequers and on any divorce bill the United Kingdom might have to pay.

"The deal is definitely going to be pushed back to November, if it happens at all", the source said.

European Union and UK negotiators are considering the idea of extending the two-year Brexit transition by one year to provide more time to develop a temporary customs arrangement between the European Union and UK, RTÉ News understands.

The Prime Minister travels to Brussels for what had been billed as "the moment of truth" in the negotiations amid growing concerns the two sides will be unable to bridge the gap over the key issue of agreeing a "backstop" deal to ensure there will not be a return to a hard border in Ireland when the United Kingdom quits the EU.

However, while May's refusal to make more concessions to the European Union in talks delayed a revolt in Westminster, the prime minister's leadership remains precarious, with senior Cabinet ministers last night openly meeting to discuss how to undermine her plans.

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But two of those present at the "pizza summit" in the office of Andrea Leadsom played down suggestions of rebellion against the Prime Minister.

Ahead of her visit to Brussels, Mrs May was able to secure the backing of her Cabinet - at least for now - amid reports that some Brexiteer ministers were prepared to quit if she gave too much ground to Brussels.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

Addressing the Irish parliament today, Mr Varadkar said: "All we are asking is that the United Kingdom honour the commitments it has already made in black and white in the year gone by and I'm sure a country like the United Kingdom, with its proud history, would want to do no less".

Her official spokesman later told reporters: "The Cabinet strongly supported her on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Union and agreed that we must ensure we can not be kept in a backstop arrangement indefinitely".

It comes after May faced pressure in the Commons from Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith over a specific end date for the proposal.

The Prime Minister was urged to "go to Brussels and act in the interest of citizens across the EU, negotiate for us to keep us in the single market and customs union".

However, hopes of that happening were dealt a major blow on Sunday when ministers failed to make anticipated progress on the Irish border problem.

Many Conservative MPs - reportedly including some cabinet ministers - are concerned a "temporary" backstop would become permanent.

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