UK eyes weekend talks to break Brexit deadlocka

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Talks between British and EU offi­cials to break the Brexit deadlock will “almost certainly last into the week­end, Britain’s attorney general said on Thursday, ahead of a crucial par­liamentary vote in London next week. With just three weeks to go until the scheduled departure date of March 29, concern is growing about the possibil­ity of Britain crashing out of the bloc after 46 years of membership with no deal in place.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the British government of Prime Minister Theresa is seeking legally-binding changes to the agreement it struck with the EU in November but which was resoundingly rejected by parliament in January. These discussions are running, they’re going to be resuming very shortly, they’re going to be continuing almost certainly throughout the weekend, Geoffrey Cox, who is leading the talks, told British MPs.

Talks have focused on the current deal’s so-called backstop solution, de­signed to keep the Irish border open but which critics say could lock Britain into a customs union with the EU in­definitely. On a visit to Britain, France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau urged British politicians to “live up to the moment as they prepared for the vote.

So far, we are still waiting for a proposal from London, it’s re­ally a British initiative which has to come, she said. But she later in­sisted on BBC radio the EU cannot reopen the withdrawal agreement because it is balanced. The solution is on the table. The withdrawal agree­ment is the best possible solution. Cox rejected criticism that Britain had not presented viable plans to the EU, tell­ing MPs the proposals were “detailed, coherent, careful and as clear as day.

European Commission secretary general Martin Selmayr said progress was still possible, despite the failure of talks in Brussels so far. These things often happen at the very last minute, he told a Brookings Institution event in Washington. We have to wait for the next couple of days and weeks. We have to be very patient. Loiseau said the EU did not want to activate the backstop either, but rejected Britain’s calls for an escape mechanism to be built into it, saying what is not possible is that one of the parties decide unilaterally to leave.

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