The European Union is gambling on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May making concessions on the contentious issue of the Irish border after her party’s annual conference next month to pave the way for a Brexit deal in November, according to EU diplomats.
EU officials are starting to redraft the language on the so-called Irish “backstop,” in an attempt to make it more acceptable to the U.K. But the British side will also need to make concessions, and EU diplomats said the U.K. team has indicated that it would be ready to do so once the Conservative Party conference is out of the way in early October.
The trouble for May is that the conference is also shaping up as a deadline for the hard-line Brexiteer lawmakers in her party who are plotting to oust her if she doesn’t change her negotiating position. Euroskeptics who think her Brexit vision is a betrayal of the 2016 referendum say privately that she will face a formal leadership challenge if she doesn’t back down. It’s not clear if they have the numbers to pull it off.