LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May urged the EU on Monday to allow a defense against Ireland to derail the Brexit talks. She believes that an agreement is still possible, said a top EU politician the chances of divorce without divorce had increased.
At a rude session of parliament before heading to Brussels for a summit on Wednesday, May remained optimistic, but reiterated that it would not agree with what the United Kingdom might divide.
With less than six months to go before Britain leaves the block, week-end talks have come to a standstill to ensure that there is no hard line between the UK province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
The stalemate has increased the possibility of Britain leaving the bloc without an agreement, a "no deal" Brexit that could potentially disrupt trade, delay trade, and starve the world's fifth largest investment economy.
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said that this scenario is "more likely than ever" and one that the EU should be prepared for, although all parties must do their utmost to reach an agreement.
He said that he had invited Mai to speak to her 27 EU colleagues on Brexit on Wednesday evening.
May said it was frustrating that "almost all the remaining points of contention are focused on how we tackle a scenario that both sides should never reach, and that if that were only temporary.
"We can not allow this disagreement to ruin the prospects for good business and leave us with a" no-deal "outcome that nobody wants," she told Parliament.
The head of the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, who runs the emphasizing the economic importance of Brexit, said it would freeze production investment in the country, unless an agreement would clarify future relations.
DEPARTMENTS AT THE GAME
May attempted to explain the obstacles she had described as largely technical, which had lost all hope of reaching an agreement at the talks in Brussels on Sunday.
She said the EU had been waiting for a proposal to keep Northern Ireland in its Customs Union if a UK master plan was not ready to be implemented if a transitional regime expires at the end of 2020.
May insists that any customs regime as part of the security check must be temporary and end no later than December 2021; however, the EU has refused to set a deadline.
May described this as a "backstop for a backstop" and said that Northern Ireland could not be treated differently from the rest of the UK.
"As I have often said, I could never accept that, no matter how unlikely such a scenario might be," she said.
But May is still facing a fight to alleviate the concerns not only of the EU but also of its Conservative Party and its partners in the Parliament, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP).
The Dup's Nigel Dodds urged May upon a new confirmation that she would stand by her words about leaving Britain as a country and rolled her eyes as she responded by repeating familiar sentences.
May must also try to keep Eurosceptics in her party on board. Her former foreign minister, who was the loudest criticized, Boris Johnson, urged her to set a fixed time limit for each backstop.
EU leaders expressed their disappointment that in the last round the possibility of an agreement had evaporated over the weekend. Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "At the moment it actually looks a bit more difficult".
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that every deal "would now take a little longer than many people had hoped for".
But a May spokesman expressed his hope and said that "there are a number of ways to achieve what we want to achieve," but refused to give details.
And in another key, Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, told reporters she also hopes for a "reasonable" Brexit.
Nigel Farage, who was a leading campaigner for the referendum on EU membership in 2016 as chairman of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), said he believed negotiations were taking place have.
Additional coverage by Amanda Ferguson in Belfast, Gabriela Baczynska, Francesco Guarascio, Alastair Macdonald in Brussels, and Michelle Martin in Berlin, edited by Robin Pomeroy