Brexit: Britain's Theresa May holds pre-summit talks

Duty’ Mrs May will urge the Commons

Arriving for a special summit in Brussels on Sunday to vote on May's almost 600-page Withdrawal Agreement, which spells out the terms for Britain's exit on March 29, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a "sad day".

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez claimed the United Kingdom and European Union had agreed to its demands for guarantees over the status of Gibraltar in future negotiations.

The Remain-voting Prime Minister's deal with the European Union - if ratified by the British Parliament and in EU capitals - could condemn the United Kingdom to "perpetual purgatory" or even no Brexit at all, as Britain's departure will be followed by a lengthy "transition" period in which it will remain subject to all the rules and regulations of an EU member-state, but without representation in the EU's institutions.

Both Remainers and Leavers in the British Parliament are warning that May doesn't have the necessary support with the all the opposition parties lined up against the deal and as many as 100 lawmakers, Remainers and Leavers among them, from May's ruling Conservatives pledging to vote against it as well. And EU leaders warned that Britain could not hope to get a better offer.

European Union diplomats and officials said there was still no clear breakthrough on Saturday morning, hours before some of the other leaders must set off for Brussels ahead of Sunday's breakfast summit - few will be happy if plans change.

Over to UK Mrs May with European leaders who backed the deal
Over to UK Mrs May with European leaders who backed the deal

She also insisted that her party was not looking to campaign against Brexit, and tried to quell fears that if the deal is voted down we will be left with a no-deal.

Tusk has recommended the bloc approve the Brexit deal negotiated with Britain.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said leaders had taken a concious decision not to consider the possible failure of this deal, stressing: "There is no plan B".

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said the original Brexit guidelines laid out a year ago that included assurances to Spain that it could deal with London directly on the issue of Gibraltar were "wise".

The DUP's 10 MPs have proved reluctant to vote with the Government since the terms of the Brexit deal became known and the termination of their Westminster arrangement would be a major blow to the Prime Minister.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, greets British Prime Minister Theresa May at EU headquarters in Brussels, Nov. 24, 2018.

Gibraltar, a rocky outcrop home to a port and around 30,000 people, is a British territory claimed by Spain and a bone of contention as London negotiates a new relationship with Brussels after Brexit on March 29.

The parliamentary vote is likely to take place in early-to-mid December.

"If there's an agreement, we'll obviously go".

Mr Macron also paid homage to Prime Minister Theresa May for seeking a "path to durable co-operation" with the European Union, while defending United Kingdom interests during negotiations. The first, a 585-page withdrawal paper, will guide both sides all the way up to Britain's departure from the bloc, which is set for March 29, 2019. He told reporters that the deal was "the best possible", but the summit "is neither a time of jubilation nor of celebration".

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But Spanish officials are concerned that a key clause in the agreement referring to U.K. -EU negotiations on their future relationship makes no mention of Gibraltar.

"The British people don't want to spend any more time arguing over Brexit", she said.

Tajani said a "large majority" of European parliamentarians supported the deal.

What's to follow if a vote in British Parliament doesn't set the Brexit plan in motion is still unclear.

But demands that extensive treaty documentation recently agreed between Brussels and London be tweaked to give Spain a bigger say over its implementation in regard to Gibraltar face resistance from Britain and European Union allies who are wary that the whole edifice of the long-negotiated deal might unravel.

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