May and other European Union leaders ask each other for Brexit help

Sergio Conner
September 20, 2018

"There is no progress", Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told Reuters after the dinner.

In Mrs May's absence on Thursday, the 27 other European Union leaders will discuss issues including the UK's future relationship with the European Union and how to resolve the problems around the Irish border.

"Our industry is deeply integrated across both sides of the Channel, so we look to negotiators to recognize the needs of the whole European automotive industry and act swiftly to avoid disruption and damage", SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said in a statement.

Tusk told reporters: "We can not at this stage exclude a no deal - it depends on both sides of negotiations".

'A lot of people out there, however they voted in the referendum, say a decision's been taken, let's get on with and do it.

"Various scenarios are still possible today, but I would like to stress that some of Prime Minister May's proposals from Chequers indicate a positive evolution in the UK's approach as well as a will to minimise the negative effects of Brexit", says Tusk.

After dining on Wiener Schnitzel and wrangling over Europe's migrant problem, May was given the floor and tried to win over her 27 peers by asking them what they would do if they were asked to agree a "legal separation" of their countries.

"There are some issues where we are not ready to compromise", Tusk said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte labeled the Brexit negotiations "a balancing act" and the leaders will have further opportunities to thrash an agreement out when they meet again in Brussels on October 18 and again in mid-November.

There are fears it could take an hour to process a lorry after Brexit
There are fears it could take an hour to process a lorry after Brexit

Barnier hopes the Salzburg summit can set the process on to a countdown to a deal in two months - diplomats said leaders agreed to hold their diaries for a possible final Brexit summit in Brussels on the weekend of November 17-18.

May will address her soon-to-be former European colleagues at a dinner Wednesday night at the Felsenreitschule theater, where she's expected to push back against Barnier's proposals.

The UK is resolutely opposed to creating a new border in the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from mainland Britain.

EU Council president Donald Tusk is alleged to have shut down any opportunity for debate and insisted the heads of state will discuss their response without her present.

The EU has offered to effectively keep Northern Ireland in its customs union.

The Prime Minsiter will hold talks with both Irish premier Leo Varadkar and Mr Tusk in the margins of the Salzburg summit. We are clarifying which goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom would need to be checked, where, when and by whom...

"I wouldn't want a Brexit that's the Chequers deal, I just don't want that - it's not what I voted for".

Reports suggest that European Union officials are keen not to appear too hostile to May, or box her into an even more entrenched position - aware that she faces a daunting task to placate many doubters within her ruling Conservative Party, and to persuade a reluctant parliament to back a deal.

A government source suggested Britain would come up with other proposals to try to reach agreement on Northern Ireland "in due course", but May has so far been reluctant to move from her Chequers plan, hashed out at her country home in July.

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