Germany is urging the UK to make a tactical move to reach an agreement in Brexit negotiations as the prime minister’s plan is increasingly at risk of being voted down by parliament if she continues to fail to get the cabinet to sign off her proposals. The warning was issued by Michael Roth, European Affairs Minister, at a meeting with EU colleagues in Brussels today. Mr Roth stressed a Brexit summit to sign off the agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc is still dependent on further changes, noting “we have to come to a good result now, we do not have that much time left”.
Brexit talks with the EU ran on Sunday night until 2.45am and resumed on Monday morning.
A Brexit summit between the heads of state and the UK government next month still depends on the progress of the negotiations, which is being delayed by tensions in Westminster.
Commenting on the progress, one senior EU diplomat, said: “Technically speaking, the text is ready. But there is no political agreement from their side.”
Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, today updated ministers on the progress of talks.
However, Martin Callahan, the British Brexit minister of state, confirmed the UK’s slow stance arguing it “can not rush” negotiations as “we have to get the right deal”.
A planned contract for the UK’s exit in March 2019 is largely completed, however, there is still no agreement in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop.
The backstop is an insurance policy to ensure no return to border controls if a future EU-UK trading relationship cannot be agreed within the timeframe.
Mrs May’s spokesperson said: “We have made good progress in the negotiations in relation to the withdrawal agreement but there are substantial issues still to overcome in relation to the Northern Irish ‘backstop’; that remains the case.
“The cabinet has backed the prime minister in moving forward with the negotiations with the EU and I expect cabinet will continue to do so.”
Both sides want to prevent a hard-border with controls in order not to jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the decade-long Northern Ireland conflict in 1998.
According to Mr Roth, the solution proposed by Mrs May that the UK as a whole remains in the EU Customs Union, as long as both sides can find no other solution, was “an option”.
However, “unfair relations” must be prevented and EU social, labour and environmental standards must not be undermined, he added.
EU sources have called for clarity from London by the end of Wednesday if there is to be a summit in November, Business Day reported.
A summit could be held on November 24 and 25.
Mr Barnier told ministers from the other 27 EU member states he is waiting for an indication the prime minister can rally enough votes to get a deal approved by parliament before he agrees to holding a summit.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.