The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said it is still “possible” to agree on an exit agreement “this week”.
Speaking to press in Luxembourg on Tuesday, Mr Barnier said: “Our team are working hard… This work has been intense all over the weekend and yesterday because, even if the agreement will be difficult – more and more difficult, to be frank – it is still possible this week.”
He added: “Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously, any agreement must work for everyone, the whole of the United Kingdom and the whole of the European Union.
“Let me add also that it is high time to turn good intentions into a legal text.”
This is a crunch week for Brexit negotiations as European leaders are set to meet for a two-day summit in Brussels from Thursday, at which Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to secure an exit treaty before the weekend.
The Remainer-dominated parliament passed the Benn Act which forces the prime minister to ask an extension of Article 50 — delaying Brexit — if London and Brussels fail to agree on an exit deal. The law also stops Mr Johnson delivering a clean-break Brexit on October 31st without the consent of parliament.
The British and Europeans have been holding confidential negotiations on a new deal that eliminates the Irish backstop. MPs had voted down Theresa May’s withdrawal treaty three times in the House of Commons.
Poll: Just One in Seven Britons Trust MPs on Brexit, Plurality Back No Deal https://t.co/pEPoIadOva
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 14, 2019
Sources speaking to The Telegraph said that there was “cautious optimism” over a deal being struck. It is understood that negotiators are discussing a hybrid compromise involving a “dual customs” territory in Northern Ireland.
“These talks are really getting down to the nitty-gritty now. It is complicated, but it comes down to political will to get a deal done,” the government source said.
If the EU and Mr Johnson’s team agree, then it would then be voted on in the House of Commons on Saturday. It would be the first time that Parliament has sat on a weekend since the Falklands War.
Speaker of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC radio this morning that “the votes are there for a deal”.
“Everybody’s desperate to finish this. It will get through the Commons,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.