With transition talk, Britain's May tries to unlock Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker

At a dinner on Wednesday night between European Union leaders, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is thought to have suggested a third transitional year after the UK leaves the European Union next March to try to resolve the deadlock over the Irish border issue.

"I suppose where I'm coming from is a slightly different position, in that we have the Good Friday Agreement and if you think about the Good Friday Agreement there are three basic philosophical principles".

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said "we need much time, much more time, and we continue to work in the next weeks".

May's official spokesperson said, "We've shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

She added that 28 months after the Brexit referendum, in June 2016, London had still not explained clearly how it wants to leave the EU.

It might be hard for May to convince her Cabinet and parliament of an extension of the transition period, however.

Tusk also said the leaders expressed their resolve to stop the flow of illegal migration.

But when the prime minister was asked in the House of Commons earlier Wednesday whether her government's blueprint for an amicable divorce was dead, May replied: "The answer is no".

London and Brussels have acknowledged that there should be a sort of safety net in place if the agreement on EU-UK partnership does not ensure that this border remains frictionless. "Such a regime should help to protect our citizens, companies and institutions from all kinds of cyber security threats", he said.

The Prime Minister infuriated MPs from all sides of her party by indicating she is ready to delay the UK's final departure until 2021 in the hope of breaking the deadlock over the Irish border.

Addressing reporters in Brussels, Mrs May said: "What has now emerged is the idea that an option to extend the implementation period could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland".

"We are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020", May said as she arrived Thursday at European Union headquarters in Brussels for meetings on migration, security, and other issues.

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"What we are doing is working to ensure we have a solution to the backstop issue in Northern Ireland, which is now a blockage to completing the deal".

And the suggestion that Britain could stay firmly in the EU's sphere for longer than the 21 months expected has fired up those who already say Britain has already given up too much in the negotiations. While it could help May sell a deal at home, it won't remove the need to accept the most controversial part of the EU's proposal - that in a last-resort situation, Northern Ireland could be split off from the rest of the United Kingdom. We need to know what the other side wants - finally, ' said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

With the offer on the table, Europe is seeking to put pressure on May to come to Brussels with ideas of her own.

This week's summit has always been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification before Brexit day in March.

The main point of contention is the Irish border.

The timeline for a deal has slipped into November, or even December, when another European Union summit is scheduled.

No EU leader reacted to May's speech, as has been the tradition with the Brexit discussions at EU level.

"It is precisely one of those things that needs to be teased out and addressed, whether we felt and the European Union felt it was the right approach to take".

"She said that her aim was to wrap this up in November", one of the business people listening to the call said.

With divorce talks stuck, the bloc has suggested extending that period, to give more time to strike a trade deal that ensures a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"We know how divided British politics is at the moment, not just the Government, and the Government party but also Parliament itself".

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