According to her prepared remarks, May will say “95 per cent of the withdrawal agreement and its protocols are now settled,” with significant progress in “the last three weeks alone.”
The biggest outstanding problem remains the issue of how to avoid the need to construct new infrastructure along the Irish border. The removal of border posts was crucial to the Good Friday Agreement that ended years of deadly sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
European leaders want a “backstop” agreement, whereby in the absence of other solutions, Northern Ireland would remain aligned with European regulations on goods and services, including customs arrangements, after Britain leaves the bloc. May opposes this because, she argues, it amounts to splitting the UK into different customs zones, which would be politically unacceptable.
“The commitment to avoiding a hard border is one that this House emphatically endorsed and enshrined in law in the Withdrawal Act earlier this year,” May will say on Monday.
“As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of the UK.”
It is unclear from May’s remarks how much progress has been made in this area since she last spoke with European leaders, but if this is the 5% of the deal which remains to be settled, then it may prove an outsized percentage.
The original plan is for a 21-month period starting March 30, 2019, as soon as the UK has left.
“If the UK decided an extension of the transition period would be helpful to reach a deal, I am sure the leaders would be ready to consider it positively,” Tusk said.
Criticism from all sides
“This government is leading us towards either a bad Brexit deal or, even worse, no deal at all. These options are a million miles away from what was promised. The government doesn’t have a mandate to gamble with our future,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said at a rally in Trafalgar Square.
Organizers handed out postcards for people to write to their local lawmakers demanding a final say on the Brexit deal, rather than relying on Parliament to approve it.
May also came in for criticism from within her own party, where a small but vocal pro-EU movement has been building amid claims the Prime Minister has been pushed to the right in negotiations by hard Brexiteers.
Speaking to The House magazine, Conservative MP Johnny Mercer said he would not have stood to represent the party as it is today and described May’s government as a “sh*t show.”
Downing Street told CNN it would not be commenting on Mercer’s interview.
“Despite the flawed strategy to date, it is still possible to reset our path towards a proper free trade agreement. But we are running out of time, and we should not fear a ‘no deal’ outcome,” Davis said.
CNN’s Erin McLaughlin and James Frater contributed reporting.