EU, Britain agree to intensify Brexit talks

  • EU, Britain agree to intensify Brexit talks

EU, Britain agree to intensify Brexit talks

In a meeting with envoys of the bloc's remaining 27 countries on Friday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, suggested that Johnson is softening his stance on both customs and Stormont's consent. This would have the twin benefit of preventing a border on the island of Ireland and enabling the U.K.to strike trade deals around the world.

As the negotiators reviewed their options, the president of the European Council and host of next week's Brussels summit Donald Tusk said that he would have pulled the plug on talks this Friday if Britain had not come forward with evidence of a workable proposal.

The compromise would mean that Northern Ireland would be able to benefit from any post-Brexit trade deals the United Kingdom strikes in a major win for Mr Johnson.

Mr Starmer poured scorn on suggestions Mr Johnson could get round the law by accompanying a request for an extension with a second letter to the European Union saying he did not really want one.

"If Boris Johnson does manage to negotiate a deal then we will insist that it is put back to the people in a confirmatory vote", he said.

Mr Barclay and Mr Barnier were dispatched after the two prime ministers held face-to-face discussions in the Wirral yesterday, prompting the leaders to "see a pathway" to a possible agreement.

However, after the "constructive" breakfast with Barclay, Barnier was given the go-ahead from member state ambassadors to begin a more detailed negotiation on a path towards a possible draft text.

Brexit negotiators are planning to spend the weekend locked in intensive negotiations in advance of an European Union leaders summit next week. "I have already said that the Brexit is like climbing a mountain and we need vigilance, determination and patience".

"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-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and safeguards the integrity of the Single Market".

On Wednesday, Mr Barnier told the European Parliament there was still no basis for a fresh agreement.

Leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster said "anything that traps Northern Ireland in the EU, whether single market or customs union, as the rest of the United Kingdom leaves will not have our support - the prime minister is very mindful of that".

Varadkar's words Thursday indicated that Johnson might have shifted his red lines and could now be willing to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.

With UK officials remaining tight-lipped, there has been intense speculation over what was said at the talks at Thornton Manor between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which enabled the process to move forward.