Britain’s Johnson pushes for last-ditch Brexit deal
LONDON, Oct 13: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to brief his ministers on Sunday on progress in Britain's last-ditch efforts to strike a new Brexit agreement with the EU.
Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of divorce terms to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday.
But they have very little time left to succeed.
EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away.
They would ideally like to have a full proposal to vote on by then.
But the sides are trying to achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss the available options with French President Emmanuel Macron late Sunday and Johnson is to brief his cabinet at lunchtime.
European officials said the bloc's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will also brief EU ambassadors on the state of play on Sunday evening.
The few details that have leaked out suggest a compromise around the contentious Irish border issue that keeps Britain's Northern Ireland partially aligned with EU customs rules.
Whether such a fudge suits both Brussels and the more ardent Brexit backers in parliament who must still approve a deal should become clearer in the coming days.
Johnson rose to power in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time -- even for a few weeks.
Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that most predict for the coming months. "Getting Brexit done by 31 October is absolutely crucial," Johnson reaffirmed in a statement on Sunday. -AFP