European Union summit agrees talks will move forward, but Brexit crisis continues

Theresa May

GETTY Theresa May was surprised to be given a round of applause

The European Union is poised on Friday to move talks forward with London on Britain's exit from the bloc as leaders warm to the British premier but there was little clarity on trade issues and Austria warned the Irish border issue remained a "riddle".

Theresa May is not being honest with the British public about the reality of the Brexit transition period. Any change in the nature or the goals of this negotiation can only be decided by the 27 European Union members + 1.

European Union officials are divided over whether Britain should continue to receive the full, unfettered economic benefits of European Union membership during a transition after it leaves, even if it loses political representation in Brussels.

Yet new guidelines agreed by the other 27 European Union countries suggest Britain will remain as de facto members for years after Brexit.

The EU has said that during the transition period the United Kingdom will have to abide by EU rules and regulations as if it were member, but without a seat at the table.

"Further delays to discussions on an EU-UK trade deal could have damaging consequences for business investment and trade, as firms in 2018 review their investment plans and strategies".

Hammond, in China on a trade mission, was asked whether firms should expect a transition deal under which the United Kingdom was still participating in the single market, customs union and subject to the European court of justice (ECJ).

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The UK will also need to continue to respect the rulings of the the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice during the transition period, an anathema for hardcore Brexit supporters. It leaves the self-congratulatory statements made by May regarding "an important step on the road to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit and forging our deep and special future partnership" and Davis, who declared Friday as "a good day for Brexit", sounding hollow.

"Everyone appreciated her personal efforts and engagement", Christian Kern, Austria's prime minister said Thursday night.

Insisting she would see the process through to the end, the PM has repeatedly said she does not want a Norway-style relationship with the EU.

She brushed off all the rows and clashes of the past week as background noise by those wishing to "talk Britain down", hailing her success in the first phase of European Union talks.

Yet whatever words May chooses to describe the two year period after Brexit, it's become increasingly clear that any transition period will look very much like continued membership. The newspaper commissioned Jonathan Portes, a senior fellow of United Kingdom in a Changing Europe, to warn that a vote on the Brexit deal at the conclusion of talks would be "too late..."

"Amid all the noise, we are getting on with the job", she added.

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