For Theresa May and her minority government, engaged in a delicate transitional phase of the negotiations on Britain’s exit from the E.U., 17 months after the era-defining referendum, Monday was a “make or break” moment. She needed to reach an agreement that would unblock phase two of the negotiations, in which London and Brussels have been stuck for months, and which is supposed to start in mid-December.
In Brussels, where the British Prime Minister had breakfast with Jean-Claude Juncker, there was good animus toward a deal. But in the end, it wasn’t enough — although today an agreement is closer than before, there are still significant reservations.
In the morning, chief negotiator Michael Barnier had said he was very optimistic, and Donald Tusk echoed the same sentiment. The front page of the Times said that the agreement was 90 percent there. Then came the anticlimax: a working lunch between May and Jean-Claude Juncker that was not as conclusive as everyone had hoped. At the end of the day’s work, the British Prime Minister admitted that “on a couple of issues, some differences do remain,” although she said she was “confident” that a breakthrough would happen this week. The obstacle this time comes from the DUP, the Unionist party from Northern Ireland.