Monday, 14 October, 2019

Brexit: EU, UK get go-ahead to intensify talks

Boris Johnson Boris Johnson
Jean Garcia | 12 October, 2019, 09:26

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, sounded a philosophical note on Friday, telling reporters that "Brexit is like climbing a mountain".

There have been many false dawns in the talks, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar are holding out hope.

Johnson said late Thursday there was a "pathway" to a belated agreement to stave off a chaotic, costly no-deal Brexit on October 31, while Varadkar said the meeting was "very positive".

Johnson said that there was a "pathway" to a belated deal to stave off a chaotic and costly no-deal Brexit on October 31, while Varadkar said the meeting was "very positive".

The key sticking point in the Brexit negotiations is the border between European Union member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, with time running out ahead of Britain's scheduled departure in barely three weeks.

"The ludicrous element is that we do not even know what is inside this deal that has made everyone so optimistic about everything", Aslam said.

The European Union and Britain will step up Brexit discussions over the coming days, following a breakthrough in talks between top EU and United Kingdom negotiators on Friday.

United Kingdom and EU officials will now work through the weekend in an attempt to agree a form of words which can be presented to the European Council summit on 17 and 18 October.

The tunnel is European Union jargon for line-by-line negotiations held by a small team of officials from the United Kingdom and European Union which are conducted in complete secrecy, meaning that offers and concessions are not disclosed.

Following the briefing, representatives from the 27 member states gave Barnier the green light to "intensify" talks.

UAW letter to GM indicates that strike won't end quickly
Johnson acknowledged the strike has been hard on workers, their families as well as the communities where the company is located. GM says it has found other jobs for 2,300 of the 3,000 workers who worked in those plants, but many had to relocate.

Barnier's team has been in "technical talks" with British officials for some time, but these were not making enough progress towards a treaty text that could forestall a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit in three weeks. "After that, it's a long road".

"I have received promising signals from the Taoiseach that a deal is still possible". But he cautioned there could still be obstacles along the way, after a more than three-year game of high-stakes political snakes and ladders.

The Taoiseach said a deal was possible after more than two hours of talks but warned that "there's many a slip between cup and lip".

The UK is due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on 31 October. Some European sources in Brussels have suggested that EU leaders may offer Britain an extension even if Johnson does not ask for one.

Details of the latest ideas being considered by London and Brussels haven't yet been clarified.

The main stumbling block remains how the U.K.'s only land border, between Britain and Ireland, is dealt with.

Varadkar and Johnson said that they had a "detailed and constructive discussion" at Thornton Manor hotel near Birkenhead in the north-west of England.

His statement "in and of itself sent sterling stratospheric", said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex. After British MPs rejected a "backstop" plan in a previous withdrawal agreement to keep the border open, Johnson presented a new proposal last week.

There has been speculation that Mr Johnson could now try to revive a compromise proposal first put forward by Theresa May that would see Northern Ireland remain politically in a customs union with the EU, but that it would be administered by the UK.

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