EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
RTÉ’s Europe Editor Tony Connolly tweetz:
BREAKING: Michel Barnier has told EU Commissioners he is optimistic of getting a deal done today, RTÉ News understands.
However, there still outstanding issues, so this could go right to the wire.
It’s understood VAT has emerged as a last-minute problem: if NI remains inside the EU’s VAT system, essential for North-South trade, then a new mechanism will have to be created for East-West trade, as the UK will be in its own VAT system.
However, it’s understood officials are confident that a solution can be found.
It’s understood consent is also proving difficult, with a senior EU source saying the DUP are pushing to restore a tighter Stormont lock.
The third big hurdle is on the “level playing field” provisions. The EU is concerned at Boris Johnson’s bid to dilute Theresa May’s commitments to not stray far from the EU’s environmental, state aid, social and labour standards.
The meeting of EU ambassadors, whom Barnier will brief, is still scheduled for 14hr CET, suggesting that the timings are still on course.
Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay
Sky News reports:
Boris Johnson will write a letter to the EU asking for a delay to Brexit beyond 31 October if he fails to get an exit deal approved by parliament by Saturday, the Brexit secretary has confirmed.
Stephen Barclay told a committee of MPs that the prime minister will “comply” with legislation, aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit at the end of the month, passed by opposition MPs last month.
Pics: Politics For All
Mr Connolly tweetz:
BREAKING: two senior EU sources say the main stumbling block to a deal has been removed with the DUP accepting the latest proposals on consent… Optimism a deal can now be done…
But DUP leader Arlene Foster tweetz:
‘EU sources’ are talking nonsense. Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support.
Mr Connolly addz:
At the risk of getting into a source arms race, I have four sources confirming the original report…