Brexit Deal in Sight as Negotiators Start to Thrash Out Details

Evarado Alatorre
Octubre 13, 2019

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. "It's a ridiculous idea".

After talks came close to hitting the buffers, the prime minister managed to win some confidence that he can secure an agreement after meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Meanwhile the DUP, whose support is likely to be crucial if Mr Johnson is to get a deal through Parliament, warned they would only back measures that were in the "long-term economic and constitutional interests " of Northern Ireland.

"No level playing field protections".

But speaking at a school visit on Friday afternoon, Mr Johnson said: "I had a good conversation with the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, yesterday and I think both of us can see a pathway to a deal but that doesn't mean it's a done deal".

It followed talks on Friday morning between Michel Barnier, the EU's top negotiator, and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

Reports from Brussels claim the Prime Minister is bringing back a proposal first put forward by Theresa May for a customs partnership between the United Kingdom and the bloc. While there's no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the European Union has previously rejected, one European Union official said that it could yet be considered.

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Mr Burleigh's initial claim that Barnier has been given the "green light" for such talks now seems uncertain, however, with a number of other reporters inflicting an abundance of mixed metaphors on observers by suggesting that the governments of the EU27 will not enter a "tunnel" with the British without being able to see a "landing zone" at the end of it.

Mr Barnier is due to brief European Union ambassadors and MEPs on Monday on progress.

The main issue under discussion during the weekend talks is where the final borders of independent Ireland and British Northern Ireland will be drawn, according to the wire service.

"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".

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.

"As a outcome of the mandate given to us by voters in 2017 the DUP is very relevant in the Parliamentary arithmetic and regardless of the ups and downs of the Brexit discussions that has not changed".

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.

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