GBP Analysis: Brexit Negotiations Gridlocked, Key Issues Remain

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Sammy Wilson said his party could withhold support for government over Brexit

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Sammy Wilson said his party could withhold support for government over Brexit

But they were disappointed by the issue that has dogged the talks for months - how to ensure that no hard border is created between the EU's Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland once Brexit happens on March 29.

Planned talks this week in Luxembourg are on hold and no additional negotiations are planned. "The EU negotiator will brief the leaders who will then assess the progress so far".

"With several big issues still to resolve, including the Northern Ireland backstop, it was jointly agreed that face-to-face talks were necessary", Raab's office said.

A hastily arranged meeting between Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and European Union negotiator Michel Barnier could not produce a breakthrough, leaving the process on a knife-edge ahead of a key summit on Wednesday.

The leaders were speaking two days before heading to Brussels for a summit of European Union leaders that had been billed as a "moment of truth" ahead of Britain's exit from the bloc in March.

"And they want this to be the Northern Ireland-only solution that they had previously proposed".

That timetable - which markets have started to price in - has been thrown off and there's likely to be more talk of how to prepare for a chaotic and acrimonious no-deal split.

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As May prepared to update key Cabinet ministers on progress toward a deal, Ivan Rogers said that, more than two years after voting to leave the EU, Britain is "on fantasy island" about what kind of divorce agreement is possible. "However there remain a number of unresolved issues relating to the backstop".

To avoid this, the prospect of an extra European Union meeting in November was raised, but only if there was decisive progress this week.

For now, there has been little success in narrowing the gap between those competing demands, and Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said any deal would now "take a bit more time than many people had hoped".

Earlier, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who was not at the Downing Street meeting, pointedly refused to endorse the Prime Minister's Chequers blueprint for Brexit. "It is time for cabinet members to exert their collective authority", wrote Davis, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

The major sticking point remains how to avoid the need for a hard customs border at the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

Europe has largely interpreted the Irish border backstop to mean Northern Ireland could continue to follow its trade rules to ensure an open frontier even if the United Kingdom leaves without a deal in March.

In her statement to the Commons, the Prime Minister confirmed the government's position that the "backstop" must be temporary, although did not specify whether an end date would be included.

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The EU's suggestion would see Northern Ireland remain aligned with Brussels' rules, thus varying from the rest of the United Kingdom.

May's plans have infuriated the pro-Brexit core of her centre-right Conservative Party - not to mention her Northern Irish allies in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Northern Ireland "backstop" has emerged as the main stumbling block in the Brexit negotiations.

But Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader and Eurosceptic lawmaker, urged caution, saying it was not time to try to bring down the prime minister and replace her with someone else.

"We have 300 road crossings between Ireland and Northern Ireland".

Britain only wants it in place for a limited time, but Coveney said that "a backstop can not be time limited".

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