Brexit: EU gives go-ahead for 'more intense' talks

Daniel Fowler
October 11, 2019

The politician began the interview by stating it was in the interest of the United Kingdom and the EU to get a deal "on both sides" to avoid Ireland being left to forge it's own customs union separate from the rest of the nation.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was meeting British Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay for breakfast at the EU Commission's Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels in talks that could pave the way for a deal at an October 17-18 summit.

Johnson's Brexit envoy, Stephen Barclay, drove into European Union headquarters for a Friday breakfast meeting with Michel Barnier at which he is expected to brief the European Union negotiator on what, if any, fundamental breakthrough has been made.

With the Irish backstop being one of the main issues of the former Prime Minister's Brexit deal, Johnson met with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, 40, recently with both in agreement a "pathway to a possible deal" is now on the horizon.

The leaders gave few details of the meeting but in a brief exchange with reporters, Varadkar described the mood as "positive".

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Marc Burleigh, Brussels correspondent for AFP, indicates that "tunnel" negotiatons are essentially just regular negotiations without breifings or leaks, conducted in an "intense" way - which rather raises the question of what European Union and British negotiators have been doing up until now, considering Brexit was originally supposed to take place on March 29th and its current deadline is only twenty days away.

Education minister Gavin Williamson restated the government's line that Britain would leave the EU on October 31, come what may, telling ITV: "We need to see the European Union shift". "Barnier will have to say whether we can or can't start negotiating a text", a European source told AFP.

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.

Northern Ireland's opt-in to the plan would be open to four-yearly review by the province's devolved assembly and executive. A free-flowing border is considered vital to maintaining peace in Northern Ireland, which was plagued by three decades of violence, largely brought to an end with the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.

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