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Theresa May in Brussels for Brexit crunch talk

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Theresa May in Brussels for Brexit crunch talk

EU officials and diplomats say they are increasingly optimistic a deal can be struck on Monday, while cautioning that things could still go wrong.

Theresa May hopes to break the Brexit talks deadlock on Monday with a new offer on divorce settlements at a crunch meeting with EU officials, as some of her party members urge her to walk away unless there is progress.

EU officials and diplomats say they are increasingly optimistic a deal can be struck on Monday, while cautioning that things could still go wrong.

Over lunch with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European UnionBrexit negotiator Michel Barnier, the British prime minister will try to persuade them to start discussions on a new trade pact and a two-year transitional deal.

The European Union has given May until Monday to put forward a more comprehensive offer on the remaining separation issues before officials recommend moving onto discussing trade and future ties.

They want a pledge that Britain will pay what it owes the bloc when leaving, protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and ensure there is no hard border between the north and south of Ireland.

The EU has said it will allow negotiations on the Britain's future trade relations with the EU to begin only when there has been sufficient progress on these separation issues.

Nadine Dorries, a member of Britain's ruling Conservative Party who supports Brexit, said May should tell EU officials time is running out to move talks on to the next phase.

The EU has had "enough time now to decide whether or not they are going to discuss trade with us, they need to get on with it and if they don't get on with it the closer we get to walking away with no deal", she said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will meet EU lawmakers early on Monday, an EU official said on Sunday.

However, EU officials and diplomats cautioned that it was still unclear that a deal would be struck with the British prime minister when she meets the EU executive.

May portrays Monday's meeting as part of preparations for an EU summit on Dec. 15 – though the EU says Monday is the last chance for her to make offers as there will be no negotiations at the summit itself. A British spokesman said: "With plenty of discussions still to go, Monday will be an important staging post on the road to the crucial December Council."

Since the referendum in 2016, high-profile opponents of Brexit have suggested Britain could change its mind and avoid what they say will be a disaster for its economy.

Half of Britons support a second vote on whether to leave the EU, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.

Source: Radio News Hub