Donald Tusk hands Boris Johnson last-minute reprieve over Brexit deal

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EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed member states on the "constructive meeting" with UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay which took place earlier that day.

The key sticking point in the Brexit negotiations is how to handle trade and customs on the border between European Union member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

At issue are the Prime Minister's plans to take Northern Ireland out of Europe's Customs union and give Stormont, its power-sharing assembly, a veto over the arrangement. The primary would set off the return of checks on items crossing the border, one thing Dublin and the European Union are against, whereas the second would hand the Democratic Unionist Occasion an efficient veto over the deal, one thing unacceptable south of the border.Can Johnson Get a Deal By way of Parliament?

Mr Burleigh's initial claim that Barnier has been given the "green light" for such talks now seems uncertain, however, with a number of other reporters inflicting an abundance of mixed metaphors on observers by suggesting that the governments of the EU27 will not enter a "tunnel" with the British without being able to see a "landing zone" at the end of it. Officials in Brussels have said that discussions will be entering a "tunnel" phase where public disclosure of details will be kept to a minimum.

Following what the EU Commission described as "constructive" talks between the two, the EU "agreed to intensify discussions over the coming days".

"The EU's position remains the same: there must be a legally operative solution in the Withdrawal Agreement that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and safeguards the integrity of the Single Market".

The development came after Johnson met with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday, who offered a strikingly upbeat assessment of the chances that the United Kingdom can strike a deal by next Thursday's European Union summit.

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The new positive rhetoric around the prospects of securing a deal is a major boost for UK PM Boris Johnson and those supportive of a Brexit deal.

As the negotiators reviewed their options, the president of the European Council and host of next week's Brussels summit Donald Tusk said that he would have pulled the plug on talks this Friday if Britain had not come forward with evidence of a workable proposal.

"Unfortunately we are still in a situation in which the United Kingdom has not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal", he continued.

"Of course, there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up".

If a deal did emerge, Mr Johnson would also need the backing of the DUP and Eurosceptic Tories to have any chance of getting it through without opposition support.

He is preparing to hold a vote on his deal on the "Super Saturday" parliament sitting as he seeks MPs to either endorse his approach or force through a Brexit delay, the paper says.

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