Talks on Johnson’s backstop ‘ideas’ give hope for averting no-deal Brexit

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HOPES for averting a no-deal Brexit looked marginally higher on Friday with the EU and Britain’s lead Brexit negotiators meeting in Brussels, one day after London handed over its suggestions for tweaking the withdrawal agreement.

The EU’s Michel Barnier and Britain’s Steve Barclay discussed the backstop – the clause in Britain’s divorce bill designed to avoid a hard Irish border – as well as the ideas put forward by London, according to the European Commission.

With the clock running down on Britain’s planned Oct. 31 departure, Brussels and London are at an impasse.

Britain wants to see the backstop dropped for fear it could be bound indefinitely to EU customs rules, while the EU insists on the need for guarantees.

“We are still far from an agreement that could match EU red lines but there might be a window of opportunity for a deal,” a diplomatic source told dpa on Friday.

For weeks, Brussels said it could not consider renegotiating the backstop without a formal proposal from Britain. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson submitted documents outlining his “ideas” on Thursday, though these stopped short of a full proposal.

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May struck the deal with the EU, which has been rejected three times by British parliament.

The premier has vowed to withdraw Britain from the EU, with or without a deal, on Oct. 31. (dpa/NAN)

– Sept. 20, 2019 @ 15:49 GMT |

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