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May makes Brexit plea as EU steps up plans for no deal

Wednesday - 17/10/2018 23:48
British Prime Minister Theresa May assured EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday that she can still reach a Brexit deal, avoiding a showdown over stalled talks as Brussels stepped up planning for a failure of negotiations.
© John Thys / AFP | Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels on October 17, 2018.
© John Thys / AFP | Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels on October 17, 2018.

May was given a 15-minute slot to speak to the bloc's other 27 leaders before they sat down to dinner without her and discussed preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit under which Britain leaves the European Union without a treaty to cushion the disruption to businesses across the continent.

But three days after talks stalled over the Irish border "backstop", thwarting hopes of a deal at the summit, May arrived determined to stress that an accord was still on the cards.

"We have shown we can do difficult deals together constructively. I remain confident of a good outcome," she told the leaders, according to a British official. "The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides."

It was far from the "decisive progress" the 27 had wanted and they agreed to call off -- for now at least -- a planned Nov. 17-18 summit that was to have inked an agreement.

Instead, May gets some more weeks to resolve the domestic political woes which most EU leaders believe are the real obstacle to a deal.

A month after May's last meeting in Austria, when her rejection of EU proposals designed to avoid a revival of border tensions in Northern Ireland provoked angry reactions, her tone was much calmer, said EU officials who were present.

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