No date for next meeting – Merkel

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TORY PM May was slapped down again yesterday as German Chancellor Merkel said that no progress was made on Brexit and that a date for a new meeting was not set, sending a stark message to the UK: ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’

Speaking after the 27 EU member states met at their latest summit, Merkel said: ‘We agreed that once we have sufficient progress we will meet again, at any point in time that is convenient, but right now we cannot safely say when such a meeting can take place.’

She said: ‘I went away from the dinner table neither more pessimistic nor optimistic. We were absolutely aware of the fact that we would not achieve a breakthrough as regards the fact of Britain leaving the union. We reaffirmed yet again that each and everyone wants those issues dealt with, wants them to be resolved, which enhances in a way a sense of security.

‘But we all need to find an answer. Britain needs to find an answer. What about Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic? ‘But if you don’t have an agreement, you don’t have a satisfactory answer either as to that situation, what happens to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?’

At a joint press conference with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and President of the EU, Junker, Merkel’s position was reiterated. Tusk said: ‘I stand ready to convene a European Council on Brexit, if and when the European negotiators report that decisive progress has been made and we should be clear that for now not enough progress has been made.’

Junker added: ‘The prolongation of the transition period probably will happen; that is a good idea. It is not the best idea that the two of us had, but I think that it will give us some room. My working assumption is not that we end up with a no-deal. A no-deal would be dangerous for us and for Britain.’

On the back foot, a rattled May gave her own press conference; she said: ‘I have always been very clear that we negotiated a implementation period with the EU and we negotiated that that implementation period would end at the end of September 2020. ‘What has now emerged is the idea that an option to extend the implementation period could be a further solution to the back stop in Northern Ireland.

‘If there is a gap between the end of the implementation period, and the introduction of the future relationship, it is to ensure that that there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. ‘Nobody actually wants the backstop to have to be actually used.’