Hopes of European Union deal rise as PM to table new border proposal

Kenny Grant
October 6, 2018

"As the President of the European Council and someone who spent half of my life in the Soviet Bloc, I know what I'm talking about..."

"My assumption is that we will reach an accord which will achieve the conditions of the withdrawal treaty", Juncker said, adding that it was not possible to predict whether there will be a conclusion to the Brexit negotiations in October.

Mr Tusk - after his criticism of Mr Hunt's comments and his own call for respect to be shown - added: "Telling the truth, even if hard and unpleasant, is the best way of showing respect for partners, that's how it was in Salzburg and that's also how it will work in the coming days".

Spain, sitting just north of Gibraltar - which will leave the European Union along with Britain - and Cyprus briefed on talks with London over two separate protocols that will be added to any withdrawal deal, the sources said.

New British proposals for avoiding extensive border checks on the island of Ireland after Brexit are "a step in the right direction" and "make finding a compromise possible", a European Union source close to the negotiations told Reuters on Thursday.

"The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the European Union club into a prison, the desire to get out won't diminish it will grow - and we won't be the only prisoner that will want to escape".

Asked if he thought a deal would be finalised at the summit, Mr Juncker said: "I have reason to think that the rapprochement potential between both sides has increased in recent days".

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"When I look at the last few days and the behaviour of the DUP in England, particularly in relation to the Tory party conference, they purport to speak for the people of the North, they do not speak for the people of the North".

The EU's proposed backstop solution would see Northern Ireland stick to those rules of the customs union and single market that are required for cross-border co-operation to continue.

She added: "I do think that the Prime Minister wants to reach an agreement because I think this is the best outcome for all of us".

The deal appears to be dependent on Mrs May accepting different customs arrangements in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, which she has been clear she will not accept.

Steve Baker, who quit his role as Brexit minister this summer over the Chequers deal, said he was "deeply encouraged" by Tusk's comments, while leading backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg described it as "excellent news".

The Brexit Secretary issued the denial as he was pressed over speculation that the United Kingdom could agree to customs checks in the Irish sea.

There is no official confirmation of the plans or when the proposals will be presented to the European Union, she added.

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