European Union hopes fade for November summit to seal Brexit deal

May under pressure from all sides over Brexit legal advice

The European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, today said it is impossible to say when divorce talks with Britain would be finalised and that there would be no deal agreed without a solid fix for the Irish border. Rumors are swirling that one might take place by the end of November, weeks ahead of a pre-planned summit in mid-December, but Barnier declined to say when or if that would happen.

"But I think beyond that you're into the new year which I think wouldn't be a good thing".

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said hopes of reaching a Brexit deal later this month are fading, echoing comments by the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier that "we are not there yet". Negotiators from both sides, however, remain at odds over ways to guarantee there is no return of border controls on the frontier between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

"Clear that more work is needed in Brexit negotiations". The clock is ticking.

Mrs May's plan would see the whole United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union to help avoid a hard border with Ireland as a "backstop" if no other arrangement can be found.

EU President Donald Tusk held a call with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, but there was no breakthrough and the official said "member states will need time" to digest any draft deal.

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"Without a backstop there will be no deal". A crucial cabinet meeting to agree the UK's Brexit negotiating position was delayed from Thursday to the weekend or early next week amid a row over whether senior ministers should be given the government's full legal advice on the backstop.

Tuesday, on a visit to London, the head of the diplomacy of the belgian Didier Reynders has found hard to reach an agreement before the end of the year, and pointed out that "the possibility of a" no deal, " + (absence of agreement) is more and more present". "It is as simple as that", Barnier said.

On Monday, however, Barnier will brief ministers from the other 27 European Union member states on the situation in the talks - even as their capitals ramp up planning for how to deal with a "no deal" Brexit.

Many ministers have backed a mechanism that would allow the Britain to leave unilaterally, on its own accord.

Barnier is this week at the meeting of his European People's Party in Helsinki and there is nothing on his public agenda about an imminent meeting with Britain's Brexit minister Dominic Raab.

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