Brexit: 'Mood music' positive for talks, Nicky Morgan says

Brexit negotiations Pound

The pound rose 2% against the dollar to $1.246 on the news as the focus shifted to Brussels, where Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay arrived for discussions with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator. This would have the twin benefit of preventing a border on the island of Ireland and enabling the U.K.to strike trade deals around the world.

Speaking in Cyprus on Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk said he had received "promising signals" from the Irish PM.

Addressing the Co-operative Party conference in Glasgow, Mr Starmer said that if Mr Johnson was unable to secure a deal at next week's crucial European Union summit, he must comply with the so-called Benn Act and seek a further delay.

He said there was not "a done deal", adding: "The best thing we can do now is let our negotiators get on with it".

After talks came close to hitting the buffers, the prime minister managed to win some confidence that he can secure an agreement after meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

"And Boris Johnson knows it very well".

The European Union and Britain will step up Brexit discussions over the coming days, following a breakthrough in talks between top EU and United Kingdom negotiators on Friday.

With parliament set to sit in a special emergency Saturday session at the end of the week, Mr Starmer said it appeared any agreement Mr Johnson was able to negotiate would be "even worse" than Theresa May's rejected deal. While there's no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the European Union has previously rejected, one European Union official said that it could yet be considered.

This suggests that the European Union still has reservations about the chances of getting a deal done, and that member states are unwilling to outsource the process entirely to Barnier and his team.

THERE IS a sense of cautious optimism in the air today after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that yesterday's meeting with Boris Johnson has led to "a pathway to a possible deal".

"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".

Mr Barclay and Mr Barnier were dispatched after the two prime ministers held face-to-face discussions in the Wirral yesterday, prompting the leaders to "see a pathway" to a possible agreement.

"Brexit is like climbing a mountain", Barnier said.

The make-or-break compromise would see Northern Ireland remain politically in a customs union with the EU but it would be administered by the UK.

He said: "It can not work because Northern Ireland has to remain fully part of the United Kingdom customs union".

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