Published: Sun, October 13, 2019

European Union continues talks with Johnson government over possible Brexit deal

European Union continues talks with Johnson government over possible Brexit deal

He added: "There is a lot of stuff coming from Brussels, pushed by the Europeans in the last hours, but one thing is sure: Northern Ireland must remain fully part of the United Kingdom customs union".

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.

The make-or-break compromise would see Northern Ireland remain politically in a customs union with the EU but it would be administered by the UK.

While this would prevent the return of customs checks at the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, it could require customs and regulatory checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Britain.

And Morgan told BBC Radio 4's Today: "After the meetings between the Irish prime minister and our prime minister on Thursday, there's no doubt that things do look promising".

Johnson has to work on two fronts after he has drafted a plausible deal: get it passed in the British Parliament by October 19 as per the Benn Act and get the European Union to sign it before October 31.

Following the breakfast meeting, Barnier began a briefing with ambassadors from the other 27 European Union capitals, seeking their input on entering political negotiations on a text.

Negotiators were dispatched for talks in Brussels on Friday, with reports suggesting their success paved the way for an entry into the "tunnel" phase of intensive and secretive discussions.

It noted that any deal must contain a "legally operative solution" that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland while protecting the island's economy, the Good Friday peace accord and the EU's single market.

The talks had appeared to be on the verge of collapse earlier this week after the United Kingdom government briefed that brokering a deal was "essentially impossible", but were surprisingly revived following three hours of talks between United Kingdom premier Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Thursday.

The new positive rhetoric around the prospects of securing a deal is a major boost for UK PM Boris Johnson and those supportive of a Brexit deal.

The president of the European Council Donald Tusk, who hosts next week's summit, had said he would have pulled the plug on plans to discuss Brexit if there was no hope of progress.

Even if Johnson is able to secure a deal, he would have to win over the DUP, or some or all of the 21 rebels in his own Conservative Party, as well as a section of the 20 or so Leave-supporting Labour MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

Government sources have said ministers are preparing to hold an emergency Saturday sitting of Parliament on October 19.

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