Not enough progress has been made on Brexit, EU leaders say

Summit on Brexit to begin today in Brussels

Talks are stalled on the question of how to avoid a policed frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, without erecting new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

A spokesperson to British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Kingdom want a deal with the European Union "as quickly as possible", despite senior EU diplomats saying no new progress has been made.

The idea of a one-year extension to the transition period had been proposed by EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Theresa May is facing an angry backlash from Tory MPs on all sides, as well as her Northern Irish DUP allies, over the suggestion the transition could last longer, extending beyond December 2020.

"It was mentioned - both sides mentioned the idea of an extension of a transition period as one possibility that is one the table and would be looked into", European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said, according to the Independent UK.

The problem is centred on a so-called backstop insurance policy that would ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland - a former focal point for sectarian tensions - if a future trading relationship is not in place in time.

"No deal the PM can secure will be as good as staying in the European Union".

May addressed other European Union leaders before they gathered for a dinner of pan-fried mushrooms and turbot in wheat beer - without her - to assess the state of Brexit talks.

"Many Conservative MPs (lawmakers) are making clear to the government that we won't support legislation seeking to prolong transition and large payments for no good reason", said John Redwood, a Conservative Brexit supporter.

But, despite the absence of an agreement, there were more positive noises from key players compared to the acrimonious Salzburg summit in September.

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At present the two sides are proposing that Britain remains inside the European Union single market and is still bound by its rules from the time it leaves the bloc in March until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.

The EU meeting is the occasion when the leaders of the remaining 27 member states were supposed to give the green light for a special summit in November to finalise the terms of Britain's withdrawal.

"I want to see what the outcome is and the detail", they told BI.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May peers into a hot water urn during a meeting at a social group in Vauxhall from a charity working to combat loneliness at the launch of the first loneliness strategy, in Vauxhall, London, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. In Spain, the foreign minister has upbraided businesses for not worrying enough about a no-deal Brexit.

But the extension would grant more time to agree a new EU-UK trade relationship and avoid the need for separate plans for Northern Ireland, which London staunchly opposes.

Of course, given the gravity of the ongoing Brexit talks, there were some unsurprising interruptions from fellow bar-goers, inquiring as to how negotiations were going. "They do not know themselves what they really want".

On Saturday, tens of thousands are expected to protest in favour of a People's Vote on Brexit in what is expected to be the largest march of the campaign for a second referendum so far, as negotiations between Theresa May and European Union representatives near an end.

Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, May said she was open to extending the transition by a number of months but said that she hoped that doing so wouldn't be necessary.

Mr Corbyn said International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have refused to say they backed the Chequers plan, joking: "Maybe she could share a pizza with them and sort it out".

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