PM will ask for Brexit extension if no deal agreed

Cheryl Sanders
October 18, 2019

British and European Union officials resumed talks to clinch a Brexit deal on October 15 just a few hours after late-night negotiations wound up, but it was far from clear they would reach an agreement before a leaders' summit on October 16.

Finland's prime minister, Antti Rinne, who holds the EU's rotating presidency, went further, saying there was not enough time for a deal to be reached.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was "confident" a deal can be struck by the current deadline and raised the prospect of another European Union summit being held in the coming weeks.

"No, I think it is important that we leave on the 31st of October", Barclay told a British parliamentary committee.

If a deal is reached, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be able to put it to the British Parliament on Saturday and so avoid having to seek another delay beyond Oct 31.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said Britain will leave the European Union by the deadline, but he is compelled, by law, to request an extension if no deal is in place by the end of Saturday.

Sterling lurched throughout the day, first sliding against the dollar in morning trading as last-ditch EU-UK talks to prevent British crashing out of the EU without a deal rumbled on for another day.

European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after Barnier briefed the EU's executive arm: "Talks have been constructive but there still remain a number of significant issues to resolve".

Both sides were hoping that after more than three years of false starts and sudden reversals, a clean divorce deal for Britain leaving the bloc might be sketched out within the coming hours.

Johnson has both promised to obey Parliament's order and vowed to leave the bloc on October 31, deal or no deal.

Mr Johnson had also wanted a deal by yesterday night, the British official said.

Rather than having a customs border around the United Kingdom's external border, the alleged proposal that has now, it is claimed, been accepted in principle would see a border separating Great Britain from Northern Ireland, both of which are full and equal parts of the United Kingdom.

But talks between the European Union and Britain to seal a divorce deal this week have hit a "standstill", according to officials in the bloc. Tariffs would apply on goods crossing from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland if they were deemed to be headed further, to Ireland and the bloc's single market.

In London, DUP leader Arlene Foster told the BBC that she wanted to support a deal, but would not do so if she felt it divided Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom and added that without her party's support, "everybody knows" it would not pass in parliament.

"It's not axiomatic that we would automatically vote the same way as them but particularly as these arrangements have strong implications for Northern Ireland, we would give very strong weight to whatever the DUP say".

The Benn Act passed by MPs opposed to no-deal says he must ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if MPs do not back a deal by then.

"I do think we are making progress but there are issues yet to be resolved and hopefully that can be done today".

He was reminded that a customs divide in the Irish Sea was once described by DUP leader Arlene Foster as a "blood red" line. She tweeted: "Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support".

Other reports by iNewsToday