Leader of Angela Merkel’s German Christian Democratic Union party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has suggested Ireland are to blame for the Brexit stalemate. Speaking with BBC’s Katya Adler, the Europe Editor asked whether Germany might have been willing to add an end date to the controversial backstop mechanism within the withdrawal agreement. BBC’s Adler said: “Isn’t it foolhardy to stay on these very tough red lines in negotiations such as when it came to the famous Irish backstop, that guarantees to keep the Irish border open.
“Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to say ‘yes okay we will put an end date on the backstop’, or ‘we will put it far enough in the future really we don’t think it will be realistic it will ever get to that’.
“I have heard internally Germany might have been open to that idea, but there was push back from other member states, particularly Ireland, is that correct?”
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “It was clear from the start that all EU countries wanted to work together.
“Particularly listening to the point of view of Ireland and the Irish Government to try to avoid no deal.
“But, if the UK now came to us and said ‘let’s spend five-days negotiating non-stop on how to avoid the backstop’, I can’t imagine anyone in Europe saying no.
“If there were new watertight proposals for the border, I don’t think anyone in the EU would say we don’t want to talk about it.”
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer added that she likes to think another Brexit referendum “might be possible” but said it “had to be acceptable to the people of the UK”.
Members of the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic European Research Group were deeply critical of the backstop element of the withdrawal agreement and it was one of the crucial reasons many of them could not back Mrs May’s agreement.
This week the Prime Minister has been meeting with the Labour Party leader after Theresa May reached out to Jeremy Corbyn to help try and get Britain’s exit from the EU over the line.
The move from the Prime Minister enraged a number of Conservative Party colleagues with some in the Tory party’s European Research Group calling for Mrs May to step down.
On Friday, Mrs May wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk requesting an extension to Article 50 until June 30.
The Prime Minister said she will seek to ratify her withdrawal agreement before the European Parliament elections on May 23, but will make “responsible preparations” to take part if that does not prove possible.
In her letter, she wrote: “I am writing, therefore, to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty.
“The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on 30 June 2019. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.
“The Government will want to agree to a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible.”
Mrs May said if ongoing talks with Labour do not lead to a “single unified approach soon” then the Government would instead look to establish a “consensus” on options on a future relationship that could be put to the Commons.
Reports suggest EU officials are considering offering Mrs May a flexible extension, or “flextension”, to the Article 50 timetable.
Mr Tusk is preparing to put the option to EU leaders at a crunch summit next Wednesday in a bid to prevent the UK crashing out of the bloc on April 12, according to the BBC.
On Wednesday MPs also voted to seek a delay to Brexit rather than risk the UK crashing out of the bloc on April 12, which was passed by 313 votes to 312.
The Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords and peers are scheduled to return to the Chamber on Monday before voting, where it is expected to be passed for Royal Assent.