Politics update: May willing to extend Brexit transition period, as deadlock stays in place


May signals she is willing to extend Brexit transition period

Theresa May EU Leaders

Theresa May has signalled she may be willing to extend the Brexit transition period, in order to break the deadlock in negotiations.

The PM attended a leaders’ summit in Brussels, where she appealed to EU heads of state to move forward with negotiations, which had reached an impasse due to the issue of the Irish border backstop, though it was unclear which proposals she had taken to them.

After the summit, EU officials said the PM had suggested she was “ready to consider” extending the transition period. Downing Street sources later confirmed that such a move had not been ruled out as a way forward.

At the summit, May told EU leaders: “We have shown we can do difficult deals together constructively. I remain confident of a good outcome. The last stage will need courage, trust and leadership on both sides,”

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European parliament, said that despite the prime minister’s calls for progress she had offered no new solutions in Wednesday’s speech..

“I did not pick up anything substantially new in terms of content,” Tajani said. “I was listening to Mrs May. It was the tone of someone who want to reach an agreement [but] there is no change in content.”

November Brexit summit not in the calendar

After May’s speech in Brussels on Wednesday, the conclusion from EU leaders is reportedly that ‘sufficient progress’ was not yet made, and so a November summit – which would provide a further opportunity for agreements to be made by both sides – was not in the calendar.

An EU source told the Guardian on Wednesday: “The EU27 leaders stand ready to convene a European council, if and when the union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made. For now, EU27 is not planning to organise an extraordinary summit on Brexit in November.”

Corbyn at PMQs: Tories ‘too weak and too divided’ to reach a good deal

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions to attack May’s cabinet, who he called ‘too weak and too divided’ to deliver a Brexit deal that would protect investment and jobs.

“The Conservative party has spent two years arguing with itself instead of negotiating a deal in the public interest,” Corbyn told the Commons. “And now, just days before the deadline, they’re still bickering amongst themselves.”

Corbyn continued: “The prime minister and her government are too weak and too divided to protect people’s jobs, our economy or ensure there is no hard border in Northern Ireland. So the prime minister has a choice – she can continue to put the Tory party’s interests first or she can listen to unions, businesses, and put the interests of the people of Britain first. Which is it to be?”

NHS cannot be confident medicine supplies will be available after no deal

NHS Crisis AandE Waiting Times

Sir Chris Wormald, England’s most senior health official, told MPs on Wednesday that he could not be ‘confident’ that there would be enough essential medicine supplies available in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Sir Chris Wormald told MPs that maintaining medicine supplies would be “very complex” in the event of no deal, adding that staff shortages and the treatment of British citizens travelling to the EU, telling MPs: “Those are the three things that keep me awake on this subject.”

In July, Theresa May urged the public not to worry after it was revealed that the government had asked drug firms to stockpile six weeks’ worth of extra supplies to prepare for Brexit.

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Daniel Cody

Daniel Cody is SEO Editor at the New Statesman, and the creator of No Majesty. He is the host of the podcast Britain on the Rocks.