British Prime Minister Theresa May has said on Monday that Brexit is still “achievable” despite the Irish backstop to derail the deal.
May attended a parliamentary session before heading to Brussels for the summit on Wednesday and remained optimistic about Brexit. She said that she wouldn’t accept or agree to anything that could “split the United Kingdom,” as reported by Reuters.
The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, however, talks related to the exit stalled over ensuring that there is no return of a hard border between the EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
The current stand-off has increased the chances of Britain parting ways from the EU without reaching an agreement – a “no deal” situation which could possibly disrupt trade relation between Britain and the EU states, delay the movement of goods, and adversely affect the economy of the United Kingdom, per Reuters.
Commenting on the stalemate, Prime Minister May said that the situation is “frustrating” because the two sides couldn’t reach a unanimous decision regarding the guarantee that there would be no hard border in Northern Ireland, per the BBC.
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said that the current situation was “more likely than ever before.” He, however, urged that both sides should continue to work towards the deal and said that it “always seems impossible until it is done,” as reported by the BBC.
According to a report by the Guardian, EU leaders expressed their disappointment as well as cautious-optimism regarding the stalemate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German Foreign Trade Federation the following,
“We were actually pretty hopeful that we would manage to seal an exit agreement, but at the moment, it looks a bit more difficult again.”
She further added that a breakthrough was possible, however, it would require “quite a bit of finesse and if we aren’t successful this week, we’ll just have to keep negotiating,” per the Guardian.
French President Emmanuel Macron showed optimism regarding the deal and said the following,
“I believe in our collective intelligence, so I think we can make progress.”
Macron’s optimism was also echoed by the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who said that under the present circumstances, any deal would now “take a bit more time than many people had hoped,” per Reuters.
According to the Reuters report, Nigel Farage, the head of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and a leading Brexit campaigner during the 2015 referendum on EU membership, commented in a non-optimistic fashion and said that the talks had “hit a wall”.