Brexit: The past seven days

May heads to Brussels for Brexit crisis talks

Most agreements were listed as "engagement ongoing" but the EU's Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, which came into force at the start of this month, was marked with "We will not transition this agreement for exit day".

In a letter to her divided Conservative lawmakers, May asked them to put aside "personal preferences" and unite in the interests of the country by backing a deal.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but diplomats say London effectively has less than a month to overcome the stalemate in negotiations and seal an agreement ahead of a regular summit of European Union national leaders on March 21-22.

If this was not acceptable to Brussels, a Plan B would see the United Kingdom leave without a deal but with a transition period extended to the end of 2021 to allow time to prepare.

The UK government says "productive" talks in Brussels aimed at addressing MPs' concerns continue "urgently". "I'm very grateful that today we took a big step on that journey by the general acceptance that these arrangements could work".

While Government sources have been keen to dampen talk of a "deal in the desert", the PM is expected to have meetings with European Union leaders on the sidelines of the gathering.

In a further indication of how high the stakes are, up to 25 members of the government are prepared to rebel and vote for a Brexit delay - something that would require them to resign - unless Mrs May rules out a no-deal scenario, according to the Guardian.

Focusing on his efforts in the coming days, Juncker said, "we are trying to deliver our best efforts in order to have Brexit be organised in a proper and civilised way that is well-thought-out".

"We have got frankly a problem in the House of Commons".

The PM and Mr Juncker said they would talk again before the end of the month.

Mr Hammond said that "important steps forward" had been made in Wednesday's talks, which had seen the European Commission make clear it was ready to "really engage" on finding alternative arrangements in place of the backstop to keep the Irish border open. "If they do that, we hone out exact words in the second week of March and it goes to the summit for approval".

"That's what is required if a deal is going to pass the House of Commons".

Despite officials in both Brussels and London playing down suggestions that an EU-Arab summit this weekend could become a Brexit "deal in the desert" meeting, Hammond added May's attendance was an "opportunity to talk to some of the European counterparts there".

"Frictionless trade, we fully agree with that".

The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Cox is drawing up plans for a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop with a 12-week notice period.

In a joint statement after the meeting, both leaders reconfirmed "their commitment to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and to respect the integrity of the EU's internal market and of the UK".

But the premier wants to be able to show Parliament that she's made significant progress on getting the Irish backstop fixed by next week, according to a person familiar with her plans.She'll attend an European Union summit in Egypt on Sunday, and talks on Brexit are expected on the sidelines.



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