Hope remains after Brexit moment-of-truth bust

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 16 Oct 2018

British and European foreign ministers insisted yesterday there was still time to negotiate an orderly Brexit deal even after a disappointing failure of the latest round of talks.

Meeting in Luxembourg, the bloc's top diplomats accepted no agreement would be struck this week at an EU leaders' summit that had been billed as the "moment of truth."

But they suggested there was still time to resolve outstanding issues, including the dispute over rules for trade in and out of Northern Ireland, before a possible emergency summit in November.

"This is obviously a difficult period," British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said as he arrived for a scheduled meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. "But I think we can get there."

Spain's Josep Borrell confirmed that ministers were disappointed a draft deal was not possible after the weekend but "we don't have to dramatize. We still have time. We still have one month."

Malta's Carmelo Abela stressed that all EU members want a deal to avoid the chaos and economic damage of a "no deal" exit in March by one of the bloc's biggest economies.

The EU's Brexit pointman, Michel Barnier, met British opposite number Dominic Raab in Brussels on Sunday, but they failed to agree on a draft divorce arrangement before EU leaders arrive in the city tomorrow.

And one of British Prime Minister Theresa May's Northern Irish allies said it was likely the United Kingdom would quit the EU in March without any agreement.

Sammy Wilson, the Brexit spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party, referred to the failure to reach an agreement on trade rules for Northern Ireland.

"Given the way the EU has behaved and the corner they've put Theresa May into, there's no deal that I can see at present that will command a majority in the House of Commons," he said.

"So it is probably inevitable we will end up with a no-deal scenario."

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