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Barnier says Brexit talks now in hands of Britain

AFP  |  Brussels 

The EU's negotiator told AFP on Monday that negotiations to break a deadlock on a deal to leave the bloc are now between British and members of her parliament.

"We held talks over the weekend and the negotiations now are between the in and the parliament in London," Barnier said as he arrived at in to discuss Britain's exit from the bloc with envoys from the other 27 member states.

Hopes had been high that May would come to to finalise a deal with the EU on Monday, but a European source these plans had been shelved due to a lack of progress.

With time running out, May had hoped for a signal from to help get a deal over the line in time for Britain's looming departure from the -- scheduled for March 29.

Instead, she spoke to late Sunday by phone, with both sides agreeing to stay in touch.

"No further meetings at political level are scheduled, but both sides will remain in close contact this week," Juncker's said.

"We are committed to ratifying this deal before March 29. It is now for the to take an important set of decisions this week," he added.

overwhelmingly rejected the deal when it was first put to them in January -- with many citing the controversial Irish "backstop" clause. A second will take place on Tuesday.

The backstop would keep the whole of the UK in a customs union with the EU in order to keep the land border between the British province of and the Republic of free-flowing.

A European source said the embattled May had failed to convince her cabinet over the weekend and that talks with the EU could go no further.

Barnier said his teams had offered all they could, including a last-minute proposal that Britain could leave the bloc's customs union after the divorce.

But this offer would not include Northern Ireland, which infuriated Barnier's British counterparts who called it a "rerun of old arguments".

The Europeans have also proposed to sign a legally backed "joint interpretative document" of the Irish backstop.

This would reiterate ways Britain could attempt to suspend the backstop if were to request a suspension of some of its obligations.

To assess the document, are awaiting the opinion of Geoffrey Cox, the May government's top who took a lead role in the negotiations with Barnier last week.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 17:41 IST