Published: Mon, October 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Johnson to brief cabinet on Brexit talks in Brussels

Johnson to brief cabinet on Brexit talks in Brussels

Meanwhile, British Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay said that the government would comply with assurances given to a Scottish court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would write a letter to the European Union requesting a Brexit delay if a divorce deal is not reached by October 19.

"I can confirm, as the Prime Minister has repeatedly set out, that firstly the Government will comply with the law, and secondly it will comply with undertakings given to the court in respect of the law", he said.

"Talks have been constructive, but there still remains a number of significant issues to resolve", EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after being briefed by Barnier.

Significant issues remain unresolved in the Brexit negotiations, which have entered the final day before Boris Johnson attempts to sign off on a deal during the key European Union summit.

But a marathon overnight negotiating session in the EU's Brussels headquarters brought them to the eve of the meeting with still some distance to go to agree on the wording of a treaty to govern the terms of Britain's October 31 departure from the bloc.

"No, I think it is important that we leave on the 31st of October", Barclay told a parliamentary committee.

And the EU Parliament's chief Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt, said Johnson had already moved mountains over the past days, seeking compromise where once he had been unbending.

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Underpinning this with legal text remained a stumbling block as work continued last night.

Yet EU sources said there has been a "further shift" in the United Kingdom position back towards a Northern Ireland-only backstop since Mr Johnson met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week.

Both sides were hoping that after more than three years of false starts and sudden reversals, a clean divorce deal for Britain leaving the bloc might be sketched out within the coming hours.

"The last moment is always a bit later than you think", said one German government official, suggesting Brexit would have to be postponed beyond the end of the month if talks are to reach a successful conclusion. Both sides have agreed that parties in Northern Ireland must have a say over a "special relationship" between the region and the EU.

Several DUP MPs sound unconvinced, but Johnson may not need their votes if he can secure enough support among Labour MPs and retain the support of his own party plus most former Tories who want a deal rather than a second referendum.

Saturday is a key date for the PM, however, with the Benn Act passed by MPs trying to prevent a no-deal Brexit stating he must write to Brussels asking for a delay if Parliament does not agree to a deal by then.

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