World

May and Juncker remain 'confident' of deal despite no breakthrough in Brussels

May and Juncker remain 'confident' of deal despite no breakthrough in Brussels

On Monday morning, the scene was set for a deal; the big three issues - the Brexit bill, European Union citizens' rights, and the Irish border problem - were solved.

"In the final stretch of these complex negotiations, the prime minister is on a razor edge", he writes, and wonders whether Mrs May's latest concession to Brussels might now "unpin the Brexit hand grenade in the UK" and "ignite Belfast, and then Edinburgh and Cardiff" in revolt against her planned deal.

So what happened? After a weekend of frantic last-minute negotiations, Ireland, the EU27 and the British government had all signed up to an agreement - or at least, a form of words - that they all thought would be signed off on Monday.

Barnier is still seeking a commitment that the rights of 3 million EU citizens who stay on in Britain after Brexit will be guaranteed by the European Court of Justice, not just by British judges. May can not give the DUP what it wants (no border with mainland Britain), while ensuring Dublin also gets no hard border across the island, while abiding by her Brexit promise that Britain will leave the single market and the customs union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk pose ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017.




The unraveling of the U.K.'s divorce deal came about when the Democratic Unionist Party - which props up May's government - refused to sign off on a plan to keep Northern Ireland in "regulatory alignment" with the European Union in an effort to keep an open, "frictionless" border with Ireland. "Obviously, we would like that to be the case", Coveney told RTE radio, according to Reuters.

But any solution will need the support of Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 members of parliament are propping up May's government.

Pablo Guimon of Spain's centre-left El Pais sees Mrs May "fighting to save the Brexit deal at home", and predicts she could face a "revolt by Brexiteers in the Conservative Party and the government itself". To do this, they demanded the jurisdiction of the ECJ should be maintained.

This will not placate the Leave Means Leave camp, and could cause problems at home for the embattled PM. The EU must deem there to be "sufficient progress" in all three areas of contention for Brexit talks to move onto the next phase in December. Not only is there no sign of negotiating success in Brussels, her fragile agreement with the DUP is creaking, and anger is spreading through the backbenches like the plague.


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