October 18th 2018

Last night, the Prime Minister addressed the European Council in Brussels, setting out the good progress we have made in Brexit negotiations so far, and what needs to be agreed to achieve a deal which works for both the UK and the EU.

The Prime Minister spoke to leaders about the good progress that has been made since Salzburg both on the Withdrawal Agreement and our future relationship with the EU.

There are issues remaining around the Northern Irish backstop, which would come into place to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if the future relationship isn’t in place at the end of the implementation period. The original proposal from the EU was one that we could not accept in the UK as it would have created a customs border down the Irish Sea.

Earlier this year, we put forward our own proposal to resolve this issue. A further idea which has emerged - and it is only an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would only be for a matter of months.

This is not expected to be used because we are working with the EU to ensure we have our future relationship in place by the end of December 2020. In those circumstances, there would be no need for any extension of the implementation period.

We are working hard for a deal this autumn – including both a Withdrawal Agreement and a precise Future Framework – and that continues at pace. This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail with a clear-eyed focus on the few remaining but critical issues that are still to be agreed.