EU’s Donald Tusk sees 'promising' signals for a Brexit deal

Andrew Cummings
October 12, 2019

But on Friday British Brexit minister Stephen Barclay and chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier sat down for a working breakfast.

After talks came close to hitting the buffers, the Prime Minister managed to win some confidence that he can secure an agreement after meeting Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The negotiators were dispatched for talks in Brussels on Friday. "A week ago I told Prime Minister Johnson that if there was no such proposal by today, I would announce publicly there are no more chances" of a deal at next week's summit of European Union leaders.

But he ruled out making that declaration, offering to hold out for the "slightest chance" of success, after speaking with the Taoiseach.

"The EU's position remains the same: there must be a legally operative solution in the Withdrawal Agreement that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all-Ireland economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions and safeguards the integrity of the single market".

"Unfortunately we are still in a situation in which the United Kingdom has not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal", Tusk said in a televised statement in Cyprus.

Mrs. Foster issued the statement a few hours after Boris Johnson refused to rule out leaving Northern Ireland in the E.U.'s customs union while the rest of the United Kingdom would leave it.

"Understandably, there has been much speculation in the period since the Prime Minister met the Taoiseach yesterday", said Mrs.

Mr Johnson said he could see a "pathway to a deal, but that doesn't mean it is a done deal".

He nevertheless warned that there was "no guarantee of success" and said that time was "practically up".

Both camps welcomed this morning's discussions as "constructive" and Mr Barnier went on to meet with the EU27 ambassadors who, the European Commission said, agreed to "intensify discussions over the coming days".

He had earlier cautioned that Brexit was "like climbing a mountain", saying that both sides needed "vigilance, determination, and patience".

But the details of Mr Johnson's concessions are not yet known.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party has consistently opposed the contentious border backstop proposals.

Sterling rose sharply on worldwide money markets in the wake of the talks, on which Cabinet received a briefing on Friday morning.

A short while later, Mr Barnier hailed the "constructive" talks with Mr Barclay.

Anonymous Downing Street sources accused Mr Varadkar of backtracking on previous commitments to try to find a deal, and of refusing to negotiate.

"We have argued that it is important to secure a balanced and sensible deal as we leave the European Union".

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, regions and sectors in Ireland which are more reliant on trade with Britain and which are more vulnerable to the imposition of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, particularly sectors such as agriculture, food and the broad SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) sector, are likely to be more adversely affected, he said.

Johnson has vowed Britain will end its five-decade membership of the European Union on October 31, with or without agreeing exit terms.

Government sources have said ministers are preparing to hold an emergency Saturday sitting of Parliament on October 19.

Many MPs believe if he can not get a deal, Mr Johnson will use the occasion to push for a "people versus Parliament" general election, possibly as early as next month.

Other reports by iNewsToday