European Union ready to make 'major concession' on Brexit deal: The Times newspaper

Clay Curtis
October 10, 2019

The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Boris Johnson were meeting for last-ditch talks in an undisclosed location near Liverpool on Thursday morning.

As both sides position for another delay followed by a British election, or an acrimonious divorce on October 31, Johnson will meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at an undisclosed location in the north west of England on Thursday.

That is despite the so-called Benn Act - passed by MPs last month - demanding he request a delay to the Article 50 deadline from the European Union until January 2020 if a deal has not been agreed before 19 October.

The Prime Minister will have what is described as a "private meeting" with his Irish counterpart in England on Thursday to "allow detailed discussions" on the process for securing an agreement.

"We also need to bear in mind that the people of Northern Ireland voted by a very clear majority to remain in the European Union, that the people of Northern Ireland, when polled, say they are in favor of the backstop that was negotiated with Prime Minister May's government".

On Wednesday, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there was still no basis for a fresh agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the the bloc.

The Conservative MP also said he believed that an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline is likely, but added that the United Kingdom must show the well of ideas has not run dry.

The intervention by Mr Hammond, who was expelled from the Tories along with 20 other MPs after backing a rebel law against No Deal, came as another ex-Cabinet minister called on the European Union to give ground.

"But he is resolute and determined to see that we leave with that deal".

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Last month, they passed a law requiring the government to postpone Brexit rather than leave without a deal on the scheduled October 31 departure date. He said he would be available 24/7 in the coming days to try to strike a deal.

He said Mr Johnson's "two borders" proposals were based on a system "that hasn't been properly developed, that hasn't been tested".

Each side's plan is rejected by the other, and the EU Summit - where any deal would have to be signed off - is just a week away.

Only seven percent want a Theresa May-style deal, 14 percent want a softer Brexit but the biggest group, 27 percent, want to leave without a deal. "There will be more talks and more political contacts". Johnson's legislative agenda will be set out by the British monarch in the traditional Queen's Speech.

Government lawyers told Edinburgh's Court of Session that Johnson accepted that he must carry out the requirements of the law, known as the Benn Act, even though he has publicly said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for any further delay.

Thursday 17 October - Crucial two-day summit of European Union leaders begins in Brussels.

With Britain due to leave the bloc on October 31, the comments by European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier were aimed more at sidestepping any blame for whatever the final outcome of the increasingly intractable divorce than signalling a deal was in the making. This is the last such meeting now scheduled before the Brexit deadline.

Parliament is expected to hold a rare Saturday sitting on October 19 as lawmakers grapple with what to do next.

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