Johnson plans to force through Brexit deal in 10-day blitz
LONDON, Sept 14: Boris Johnson is planning to force a new Brexit deal through parliament in just 10 days - including holding late-night and weekend sittings - in a further sign of Downing Street's determination to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU.
According to Number 10 officials, Johnson's team has drawn up detailed plans under which the prime minister would secure a deal with the EU at a Brussels summit on October 17-18, before pushing the new withdrawal deal through parliament at breakneck speed.
The pound rose 1.1 per cent against the US dollar to $1.247 on Friday amid growing optimism that Johnson has now decisively shifted away from the prospect of a no-deal exit and is focused on a compromise largely based on Theresa May's withdrawal agreement.
Officials in Dublin and Brussels say there are signs of movement from Johnson as he searches for a compromise on the Irish backstop, the contentious insurance policy against a return to a hard border in Ireland, although both sides remain far apart.
EU diplomats said that talks on Friday in Brussels between the European Commission and UK negotiators had been more productive than previous meetings.
An EU diplomatic note said that Britain seemed willing to stick with some of what had been agreed by May to prevent animal health checks at the Irish border, and so keep food and livestock moving freely on the island. The UK is even "considering" keeping Northern Ireland aligned with future EU rule changes, according to the note.
Diplomats cautioned, however, that important points remained unresolved, and that this would be only part of the solution for avoiding a hard Irish border. Britain has also yet to make written proposals and EU officials are worried about the lack of time left to secure any new agreement before the UK's scheduled departure date of October 31. -AP