British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday started a last-minute flurry of European diplomacy that includes visits to Paris and Berlin as she prepares for a make-or-break Brexit summit. Still struggling to get her EU divorce deal through parliament, May is hoping European Union leaders will agree on Wednesday to delay Brexit for a second time to stop Britain crashing out of the bloc two days later.
Prime Minister Theresa May is writing to the EU to formally ask for Brexit to be postponed. One ministerial source told the BBC the longer delay could be up to two years, amid reports of a cabinet row, but No 10 said no decision had been made.
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday proposed that Britain could leave the bloc's customs union after the divorce though the offer would not include Northern Ireland which will most probably anger London.
Theresa May will return to Brussels on Wednesday to continue talks on her Brexit deal. She will meet the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Earlier, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay updated Cabinet on talks with the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier says the Irish backstop is part and parcel of the UK's Brexit deal and will not be renegotiated. Speaking at the European Parliament, Mr Barnier said it was a realistic solution to preventing a hard border.
There is a high risk of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal by accident, the EU's deputy chief negotiator Sabine Weyand has said. She added there was “full ownership of what was agreed” in the EU, but “no ownership” of it in the UK Parliament. And it was a challenge to see how a majority for any deal could be built among MPs, she added.
European Council President Donald Tusk has hinted that the UK should stay in the EU, after the prime minister's Brexit deal was rejected in parliament. If a deal is impossible, and no-one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is? he tweeted.
Theresa May will return to Brussels for Brexit talks this weekend as the UK and EU strive to do a deal in time for Sunday's summit of European leaders. After a two-hour meeting with EU officials, the prime minister said progress was being made on the future shape of EU-UK relations.
EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK's political situation could make a no-deal more likely. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was no question of reopening talks as a document was on the table.
The British cabinet has backed a draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, Theresa May has said. The prime minister was speaking after what she said was a “long, detailed and impassioned debate” in a five-hour cabinet meeting.