The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he is open to extending the transition to break the impasse in the stalled divorce talks.
Under the current timetable, the UK will leave the EU on March 29, 2019, before a 21-month ‘implementation period’ runs until December 2020.
During this transition, Britain will be bound by EU laws but would not be represented at any of the bloc’s institutions.
And if Mrs May accepted this latest offer, it could keep the UK tied to Brussels until December 2021.
Mr Barnier revealed his plan during a meeting with ministers from the EU27 today, the Financial Times reports.
It has proven to be more complicated than some may have expected
In exchange for more time to thrash out a UK-EU trade deal, Mrs May would need to sign up to a “two-tier” backstop for Ireland.
The proposals would avoid the need for customs checks and border infrastructure on the politically sensitive frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
The first element would apply to Northern Ireland only, keeping it inside the EU’s customs union and much of its single market.
The second aspect would include provisions for a UK-wide customs union.
The idea was first floated last week, according to the FT, but key aspects of the plan relating to Northern Ireland were deemed unacceptable by UK negotiators.
Keep up to date with all of today’s Brexit news with Express.co.uk’s live blog below:
Brexit news: John Major has accused Leave campaigners of peddling lies over Brexit
10.25pm: Arlene Foster sidesteps question over voting down upcoming Budget
The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to say whether she would vote against the Budget later this month if her party’s Brexit demands are not met.
Arlene Foster has insisted any exit deal must not treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK or introduce customs or VAT checks on goods shipped across the Irish Sea.
Theresa May’s minority Government is reliant on votes from the DUP’s 10 MPs to pass key legislation through the Commons.
But the DUP warned last week it would pull its support if its Brexit concerns are not addressed.
Asked today about whether her party would make good on its threat to vote down the Budget, Arlene Foster simply said: “We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves”.
DUP leader Arlene Foster dodged a question on whether she would vote against Theresa May’s Budget
9.30pm: Barnier ‘offers Brexit extension’ which could delay split by another YEAR
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator is prepared to offer Britain an extension to its transition period but only if Theresa May agrees to a broader backstop for the Irish border.
Michel Barnier’s proposed “two-tier” solution would feature additional measures to avoid a hard border in Ireland, the Financial Times reports.
One part would just cover Northern Ireland and keep it inside the EU’s customs union and large parts of the single market.
The second aspect would deal with a UK-wide customs union.
If the UK agreed to the broader backstop, a one-year extension clause would be added to the 21-month transition which has already been agreed.
The extension would grant more time to secure a UK-EU trade deal but would tie Britain to the bloc’s rules until potentially the end of 2021.
Mr Barnier outlined his plans to ministers from the EU27 at a meeting in Luxembourg today and explained Brussels is prepared to find an alternative way to break the impasse so a Brexit deal can be finalised next month.
Mr Barnier has floated the idea of an extension to Britain’s Brexit transition
6.50pm: Barnier issues Brexit deal deadline
Britain has until December at the latest to agree divorce terms with EU, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator has said.
Michel Barnier said December is the “ultimate deadline” for the UK and any deal agreed after that point would not be ready by the time Britain leaves in March 2019, according to an EU source.
Updating ministers from the EU27 on the progress of the negotiations today, Mr Barnier was asked how late a withdrawal agreement could be struck.
A person familiar with the meeting told Reuters that Barnier calculated backwards from Britain’s March 29 exit date to arrive at the December deadline.
Michel Barnier said the UK has until December at the latest to agree a Brexit deal
5.10pm: ‘Time is running out’ Ireland warns of lack of progress over border
Leo Varadkar has expressed concern that the Brexit talks have not produced a breakthrough on the Irish border issue despite the increased efforts of negotiators from both the UK and EU.
The Irish leader said he still believes a positive outcome is possible but warned decisive progress had not been made.
He said: “I am disappointed and concerned, despite these efforts, it has not been possible to make the decisive progress we so urgently need. The gaps between the positions are significant and time is running out.”
The question of how to avoid a hard border in Ireland is the last remaining obstacle in the way of a Brexit deal.
Theresa May is attempting to balance the concerns of her unionist allies in Northern Ireland while also trying to secure terms which would not force the UK to commit to membership of the EU’s customs union for an indefinite period.
Irish leader Leo Varadkar has warned of a lack of ‘urgently needed’ progress on the border question
4.45pm: EU threatens to CANCEL November summit
Senior European Union officials have warned they will pull the plug on an emergency Brexit summit in November unless the UK bows to the bloc’s demands for the Irish border.
Theresa May will meet with EU leaders at a crunch summit tomorrow with the aim of sealing a draft exit deal which includes an agreement on how avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Brussels had previously signalled it would organise an emergency summit for November if an agreement is not reached this month.
But EU officials have now warned they will cancel the plan unless significant progress is made on the remaining issues, chiefly the Irish border conundrum.
A senior EU official said leaders will consider whether enough progress has been made after hearing from Mrs May tomorrow evening.
READ MORE: EU leaders threaten to SCRAP November summit unless UK caves in on border
Mrs may must demonstrate progress has been made on outstanding Brexit issues, the EU has warned
Mrs May’s chief Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, has been defended by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwil
3.20pm: ‘Attacks on May’s Brexit team HAVE to stop’ – top civil servant speaks out
A top civil servant has taken the rare step of publicly condemning critics of Theresa May’s chief Brexit adviser, accusing them of “sniping” at him over his part in the divorce negotiations.
Sir Mark Sedwill, the acting Cabinet Secretary, rushed to the defence of Olly Robbins after a weekend article about him carried the headline: “PM’s ‘Rasputin’ has charmed EU and split Tories”.
Mr Robbins serves as the Prime Minister’s EU sherpa and played a key role in her blueprint for a soft Brexit, the so-called Chequers agreement. Because of his part in crafting the deal, he is widely mistrusted by Brexiteers who believe he wants to keep the UK in a close orbit around Brussels.
In a letter to the Times, Sir Mark said the weekend article had acknowledged “the extraordinary dedication and professionalism that he and his team have brought to delivering the Government’s Brexit negotiations”.
But he went on: “However, the anonymous sources on whose sniping it also draws should be ashamed of themselves, especially in a week when another senior civil servant reported having been threatened because of comments about Brexit implementation.
“This has to stop. Civil servants have always trusted that our fellow citizens, whatever their views, know that we are doing our duty to implement the decisions of the governments they elect.”
Harvey Gavin taking over live reporting from Simon Osborne.
The EU has ditched plans to publish draft details on a future UK-EU trade deal
1.16pm update: Nigel Farage brands May “most dishonest Prime Minister ever”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has launched a stinging attack on Theresa May, branding her the “most dishonest Prime Minister ever”.
He told Sky News: “What Theresa May says and what she actually does are two completely different things.
“Franky, I view her as just about the most dishonest Prime Minister I have ever seen.
“When she tells you we are taking back control of our laws, she then concedes the European Court of Justice will hold sway for at least another year.”
11.32 update: Draft declaration ditched after failure to reach agreement
EU leaders have scrapped plans publish a draft declaration on a future trade deal with the UK after Brexit talks collapsed over the Irish border issue, according to officials.
An outline of an agreement was due to be “on the table” at a summit dinner tomorrow night after Theresa May addressed the 27 other EU heads of state.
But Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s refused to sign off on an agreement on the Irish border have thrown the plans into chaos.
A senior Brussels official said: “Since there is no agreement on the Irish backstop there will not be an outline of joint political declaration on the table on Wednesday evening and that will not change before Wednesday.
“I think that was clear on Sunday afternoon, that what we got from Michel Barnier was that the spirit of talks on Sunday were not promising any progress before the summit this Wednesday.”
10.49am update: Theresa May “to be kicked out of Brussels meeting before dinner”
Theresa May will address the other EU leaders on Brexit at a dinner in Brussels tomorrow night – but is will not be allowed to stay for the food, according to PoliticsHome.com
Downing Street sources told the site the Prime Minister won’t go hungry, saying: “The ambassador’s residence does a decent breakfast so dinner should be good, too.”
9.55am update: France braces for no-deal Brexit
France is preparing to introduce border checks at the Channel Tunnel amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit.
French European Affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said agreement on Brexit was still possible and remains the best scenario.
But she admitted officials in Paris were busy preparing for the collapse of negotiations and had already made legislative proposals to take all necessary measures in case of a no deal, including on border checks for British citizens in France and French citizens in Britain.
She said: “We want a good deal and we think it is possible.”
9.04am update: Latvian minister says there is still time to reach deal
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics insisted there was still time to reach a deal on Brexit even if it is not finalised this week.
Mr Rinkevics was speaking as EU leaders prepared to meet in a high-stakes summit on Wednesday and Thursday.
He said: “Even if in this week’s debate we are not going to have any kind of deal, there is still time, there is still possibility to get a deal.”
8.44am update: Austrian EU minister: “Talks heading in right direction”
Austrian EU Minister Gernot Blumel said Brexit negotiation dynamics were going in the right direction but warned there was not enough for a compromise yet.
He said: ”I had the impression that the dynamics in the negotiations are going in the right direction.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to compromise on a common paper.”
8.41am update: Berlin urges May to “take responsibility and be constructive”
Germany wants Theresa May to come up with constructive ideas and take responsibility for getting her supporters to back a final Brexit deal, according to European Affairs Minister Michael Roth.
Speaking as he arrived for in Luxembourg ahead of a crunch meeting of EU ministers, Mr Roth said Berlin was aware Mr May had difficulties in getting a parliamentary majority but that the EU had limited room for manoeuvre to go any further toward the British position on avoiding a hard border for Northern Ireland.
Asked what his message to Mrs May would be, he said: “Take responsibility and be constructive.”
Theresa May has been urged to ‘take responsibility’ by the Germans
8.27am update: Dutch hope for orderly Brexit but prepare for no-deal
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the Netherlands was hoping for a deal on an orderly Brexit but warned his country was also preparing for a no-deal scenario.
Mr Blok said: “We hope for a negotiated Brexit. At the same time we hope for the best and we prepare for the worst. So we also prepare for a hard Brexit.”
He also said he hoped there will be an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on Brexit in November, as this would mean that a deal was close.
8.05am update: Brokenshire urges Cabinet colleagues to back Theresa May
Housing minister James Brokenshire urged his government colleagues to rally behind Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
He said: ”The message is we need to support the prime minister in making further progress this week and therefore move to that position of getting that positive outcome for our country.
“Whilst making sure that it is our entire United Kingdom that leaves the European Union, the Single Market and the Customs Union because it is our UK that is just so important.”
Lord Hague suggested the UK could seek temporary EFTA membership to avoid a no-deal Brexit
7.30am update: Lord Hague calls for fresh thinking
Former Tory leader Lord Hague said Theresa May was entitled to make clear to EU leaders that she has “moved heaven and earth to reach a deal” but can only clinch it and have any hope of getting it through Parliament with concessions from them that are “wholly reasonable”.
He said: “There is no humiliation in trying again, no disgrace in doing some fresh thinking.”
The peer said a proposal by Tory MP Nick Boles to takes up temporary membership of the European Free Trade Association after withdrawal to allow time for a free trade agreement to be negotiated was worth thinking about.
He said: “As an alternative to chaos it could command wide support.”