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Pie attempts to make sense of Brexit. For tickets to see Jonathan Pie LIVE in the USA go to jonathanpie.com/live
With less than six months until Britain leaves the European Union, talks have all but stalled over the vexed issue of the Irish border — the most contentious aspect of any potential deal.
This week has always been considered as crunch time.
A summit in Brussels between British Prime Minister Theresa May and her 27 European counterparts failed to reach an agreement on the border, with Mrs May proposing to extend the UK's transition out of the EU "by a matter of months".
As the March 29 deadline for the UK's exit from the union looms, there's more uncertainty the ever.
So what are the issues?
The major sticking point is the Irish border.
That's the 499-kilometre land border between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland — an EU member.
In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement brought peace after 40 years of violence and saw the demilitarisation of the border between the North and the Republic, removing checkpoints so people and goods could move freely between the two.
The EU and the UK have agreed they do not want a return to a hard border, where passport and customs checks would be returned, but they cannot agree how to achieve that.
Some even fear a return to the violence seen during The Troubles if fortified installations returned to the border, with Northern Ireland's top police officer warning earlier this year they would be seen as "fair game" for targeting by dissident republicans.
The so-called Northern Ireland backstop is also a huge factor.
The backstop is a safety net, or insurance policy, for the possibility that negotiations between the EU and UK breakdown and no deal or customs arrangements are reached.
This is now a real possibility.
It is designed to ensure that whatever happens in talks on future trade there is no need to impose checks at the border.
Under the EU's backstop proposal Northern Ireland would stay in the single market and customs union while the rest of the UK withdraws.
That would mean no checks on goods in Ireland but customs posts between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
It would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in the Irish sea, cutting the UK down the middle.
Theresa May says she won't stand for any arrangement where Northern Ireland is treated differently than the rest of the UK.
She has to — Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, whose backing Mrs May relies on to form government, has threatened to withdraw support for them on key domestic issues if the North's status in the UK is threatened.
Mrs May has argued the backstop should see the whole of the UK stay in a customs union with the EU on a temporary time-limited basis, after the transition period comes to an end.
That would mean Britain would leave the EU in March next year, remain in the single market until the end of 2020 and then stay on in the customs union for an unknown period of time.
But Brexiteers and Conservative MPs have condemned that approach because it ties the UK to EU rules in the longer term, which they say betrays the vote of the UK people to leave.
The EU doesn't like the idea of a time limit as it could come to an end when a workable solution to the border issue still wasn't in place.
Instead it argues it should only cease once Britain has found a way of avoiding a hard border.
The EU has also argued against Britain cherrypicking by staying in the single market for years while having no obligations of EU membership.
Without consensus on the backstop, talks will need to turn to a no-deal scenario, where the UK dumps out of the European Union without any agreement in place.
There are fears a no-deal scenario could lead to mass disorder and economic chaos including the grounding of planes, transport delays and even a shortage of food and medicines in the UK — a once unthinkable situation.
Through the “wrong” end of the looking glass, Ms. May is the same as your Mr. Morrison
All they see is their own personal political momentary survival.
No vision, no national interest, no common good.
Thousands are marching in London on Saturday for a 'people's vote' on the final terms of the Brexit divorce bill. ... READ MORE : http://www.euronews.com/2018/...
Tens of thousands of supporters of the European Union have marched through London in the biggest demonstration so far to demand the British Government holds a public vote on the terms of Brexit.
The protesters waved the blue and gold flag of the EU and held up "Bollocks to Brexit" banners under sunny skies to call for another referendum on the eventual deal on how Britain will leave the world's biggest trading bloc.
The "People's Vote" march comes as pressure builds on Prime Minister Theresa May over her negotiating strategy with just over five months until Britain is due to leave.
There is, so far, no divorce deal and some rebels in May's Conservative Party have threatened to vote down a deal if she clinches one.
James McGrory, one of the organisers of the march, said the public should have the chance to change their minds because the decision will impact generations of Britons.
"People think the Brexit negotiations are a total mess, they have no faith in the Government to deliver the promises that were made, partly because they cannot be delivered," he said.
At the march, demonstrators carried placards saying "Brexit is pants" and "time for an EU turn".
Members of Parliament from all the main political parties are set to join the demonstration.
Organisers said about 700,000 people took part in the march, which saw 150 buses of marchers pour into the British capital from all across the country.
Police did not provide an attendance estimate, but the organisers' estimate would make it the largest march in Britain since a demonstration against the Iraq war in 2003.
The 2016 referendum saw a 52 per cent vote in favour of leaving the European Union.
But the past two years have been politically fraught as the Government has struggled to agree on a plan and there are fears that Britain might leave the bloc without a deal.
Some opinion polls have shown a slight shift in favour of remaining in the European Union, but there has yet to be a decisive change in attitudes and many in Britain say they have become increasingly bored by Brexit.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly ruled out holding a second referendum.
The British prime minister's office confirmed the deal Tuesday without offering details. But that did not silence Theresa May's critics at home, many of whom have already expressed opposition.Read more from NPR.org
Isn't democracy a wonderful thing?!
May is facing an uphill climb in getting the UK government on board with a plan.Read more from ABC News