EU chiefs are drawing up a plan to delay Brexit until 2021 to do away with a need for any Irish backstop.
Under the latest thinking in Brussels, Britain’s 21 month transition period after exit day on March 29 would be scrapped for continuing membership instead.
AFP Prime Minister Theresa May meets with EU Council President Donald Tusk
The move would mean a trade deal could be agreed by the end of December 2020, leaving no need for a backstop that Brexiteers argue will trap the UK forever.
The idea to break the current deadlock is favoured by EU Council President Donald Tusk, but would be bitterly opposed by Leave backing MPs.
It emerged as Theresa May held talks with EU leaders in the margins of a desert summit yesterday in a desperate bid to show progress before the next showdown Commons vote on Wednesday.
In a positive sign for the PM, Irish leader Leo Varadkar appeared to give ground by saying he would agree to offering reassurances the backstop would be temporary.
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The Taoiseach said: “We’re happy to talk about mechanisms that might give them the assurances they need”.
But he insisted Ireland would never allow something that would ”contradict the legal reality, or the spirit of what’s been agreed“.
In his meeting with the PM last night, Mr Tusk insisted the EU would not sign off on any changes to the deal until the PM wins approval for them with a Commons majority.
EPA Irish leader Leo Varadkar said he would agree to offering reassurances the backstop would be temporary
AFP Mr Tusk has insisted the EU would not sign off on any changes to the deal until the PM wins approval for them with a Commons majority
Theresa May kicks the can down the road AGAIN as she delays vote on Brexit deal by two weeks