Published: Sat, October 12, 2019
Economy | By

Brexit: DUP says it will 'stand up for NI' in Brexit talks

Brexit: DUP says it will 'stand up for NI' in Brexit talks

European Union Council chief Donald Tusk says that he has "received promising signals" from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that a Brexit deal is still possible and he has extended a deadline to continue talks with the United Kingdom.

Tusk said "there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up" but insisted both sides should use every opportunity available ahead of Britain's scheduled October 31 departure date.

Their meeting followed a burst of optimism after the British and Irish prime ministers said on Thursday that they had found "a pathway" to a possible deal.

The green light for renewed, intensified discussions from European Union member states came after a "constructive" meeting on Friday with Barnier and his British counterpart Stephen Barclay.

"Brexit is like climbing a mountain".

The meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar at a country manor on the Wirral on Thursday came after a week of abrupt exchanges between London, Dublin and Brussels. Even if, as United Kingdom officials hope, Brussels shows flexibility on the timeline, they have yet to enter the "diplomatic tunnel" of final text negotiations.

A British spokesman also described the closed-door talks as a "constructive meeting".

There "positive" comments after the meeting by both Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar prompted speculation of compromises on customs arrangements to avoid border checks on the island of Ireland.

By mid-morning on Friday, the currency was up 0.8% on the day to $1.2537.

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

Without a deal, Mr Johnson will face demands from opposition parties to comply with the so-called Benn Act which would require him to request a three-month Brexit delay if there is no agreement by October 19. The United Kingdom is due to leave the world's biggest trading bloc on Oct 31 and, despite the flurry of activity, it remains uncertain on what terms it will leave, when, and even whether it will do so at all.

British and European Union officials will continue Brexit talks over the weekend amid rising speculation a deal is on the cards which could break the deadlock over the Irish border.

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.

France has also long said that deadlines can not be extended forever, since Britain was originally slated to leave the bloc on March 31.

However, there is still no clarity on what concessions have been or are likely to be made, and public statements suggest that long-standing differences remain unchanged.

"We've been here so many times before this optimism needs to be tempered by the fact that any deal would have to be approved not only by the European Union, but by MPs here as well, and MPs track record on agreeing on anything in recent months hasn't been particularly great", he said.

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