The UK’s transition out of the EU could be extended by “a matter of months” to ensure no hard border in Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.
May said this was a new idea that had emerged in negotiations and was not expected to be used.
The UK leaves the union on 29 March 2019 and, under the current plan, the transition period is due to finish at the end of 2020. However, some Tory MPs are not pleased with the idea of the UK remaining in the single market and customs union for a longer period.
The Prime Minister addressed her 27 European counterparts yesterday (Wednesday 17 October) evening, and urged them to give ground and end the current Brexit deadlock.
Speaking this morning, May announced that the UK had already put forward a proposal to avoid the need for either a hard border or a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
May added: “A further idea that has emerged - and it is an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months - and it would only be for a matter of months.
"But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020."
After Wednesday’s discussion, EU leaders stated that it was up to May to present new ideas, and declared that insufficient progress had been made to call a special summit next month to draft a withdrawal deal.
However, both sides have agreed to continue talks.
In order for the extension to be put in place, the UK Parliament will have agree to it, and some MPs have warned that May will face a rebellion if she tries to do it.
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