Brexit deal hopes hang on British breakfast with Barnier


This afternoon, Michel Barnier debriefed the EU27 Ambassadors.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said he has "received promising signals" from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that a Brexit deal is still possible, so he has extended a deadline to continue the Brexit talks.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said any Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland in the European Union "will not have our consent".

Ms Foster acknowledged there had been a lot of speculation as to what had happened during the Prime Minister's meeting with Irish premier Leo Varadkar in England.

He added: "Brexit is like climbing a mountain".

This would be a major breakthrough and a cause for celebration in Ireland and certain parts of the UK- already the pound has risen significantly against the dollar - but Mr Johnson is set for huge backlash from the DUP if has indeed agreed for Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK. He said that "even the slightest chance must be used" to get a deal.

"A week ago I told Prime Minister Johnson that if there was no such proposal by today I would announce publicly that there are no more chances because of objective reasons for a deal during the coming European council".

Dramatic progress could lead to the start of so-called intensive "tunnel" negotiations in the coming days, ahead of the crunch European Union heads of government summit.

Marc Burleigh, Brussels correspondent for AFP, indicates that "tunnel" negotiatons are essentially just regular negotiations without breifings or leaks, conducted in an "intense" way - which rather raises the question of what European Union and British negotiators have been doing up until now, considering Brexit was originally supposed to take place on March 29th and its current deadline is only twenty days away. But Mr Tusk tempered this by saying: "Of course, there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up".

In a joint statement, both leaders described the two-hour meeting as a "detailed and constructive discussion" where "they agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal".

Both sides say they don't want to place infrastructure on the frontier between Northern Ireland and Ireland, with the absence of a hard border seen as integral to the peace that followed decades of conflict.

"We had a constructive meeting with Steve Barclay and the British team", Mr Barnier told reporters.

The question of the Irish border - and the proposed "backstop" that angers Brexiteers - has become the most intractable issue in negotiations.

Following the breakfast meeting, Barnier began a briefing with ambassadors from the other 27 European Union capitals, seeking their input on entering political negotiations on a text.

Speaking to reporters, Varadkar later said the meeting was "very positive", suggesting it would be a "short pathway, rather than a long one".

The main stumbling block remains how the U.K.'s only land border, between Britain and Ireland, is dealt with.