Brexit talks go down to the wire ahead of European Union summit

Brexit talks go down to the wire ahead of European Union summit

Brexit talks go down to the wire ahead of European Union summit

Johnson is likely to have to rely on DUP votes to get any deal through the British parliament.

However, the Northern Irish party that Johnson needs to help ratify any agreement has refused to support the deal that was hammered out over weeks of negotiations.

The big question is how far Johnson's government is prepared to budge on its insistence that the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, must leave the European Union's customs union - something that would require checks on goods passing between the United Kingdom and the EU, including on the island of Ireland.

One EU source said the putative agreement "is politically fragile in London".

The PM's official spokesman said there "certainly remained issues to resolve", a sentiment echoed by European Union commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. If they do not, talks could still continue, pushing leaders to hold an emergency summit before the end of the month.

The British parliament defeated similar deals struck by Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, three times.

The developments come as negotiators stepped up efforts to work out a way to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop, the contingency measure to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland that is seen as the key factor in the talks. Johnson insists his country will leave at the end of the month with or without an agreement, although United Kingdom lawmakers are determined to push for another delay rather than risk a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

Johnson told his cabinet there was "a chance of securing a good deal but we are not there yet and there remain outstanding issues", a Downing Street spokesman said.

If the Wednesday deadline is missed, officials said talks could instead resume next week and a special summit be called immediately before the October 31 Brexit date.

If no deal is reached by Saturday, Johnson will fall foul of a British law demanding he ask the European Union to postpone Brexit for a third time rather than risk a potentially disastrous "no deal" departure.

Beyond the questions of disrupting daily life, an open Irish border underpins both the local economy and the 1998 peace accord that ended decades of Catholic-Protestant violence in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, EU negotiator Michel Barnier and British Brexit minister Stephen Barclay judged that a deal was close enough to justify officials working into the early hours of Wednesday.

Johnson won the top job by pledging to renegotiate May's agreement, though he is reviving the bulk of it now, with changes to the protocol on how to treat the border between European Union member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

He said that "if the DUP says "this is intolerable to us" that will be quite important".

The currency then rose on reports that the DUP had accepted the latest plan but that was swiftly shot down by the party's head Arlene Foster.

MP Mark Francois warned there was no guarantee hardline Brexiteer ERG Conservatives and the DUP would vote the same way on a Brexit deal. She tweeted: "Discussions continue".

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