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Brexit: Johnson under pressure to concede more ground to Brussels | Politics News



Boris Johnson is reportedly coming under pressure to give more ground to Brussels as efforts continue to try to reach a Brexit agreement before an EU summit later this week.

UK and EU officials will resume talks in the Belgian capital today with the prospect of an agreement in time for Britain to leave with a deal on October 31 in the balance.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said “technical-level” talks between officials over the weekend had proved “constructive”.

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But in a briefing to ambassadors of the remaining EU27 on Sunday in Brussels, he said that “a lot of work remains to be done”.

Earlier, Mr Johnson told senior ministers that while a “pathway” to an agreement could still be seen, there was “still a significant amount of work to get there”.

In a cabinet conference call, he said that they still had to be prepared to leave on Halloween without a deal.

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Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has hinted that the government is preparing to make compromises in order to get a deal – telling Sky News he may have to “eat my words”.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that negotiations with Brussels “seem to be taking a serious turn” and the situation “looks a lot more positive this week than it did last week”.

Mr Rees-Mogg was chairman of the European Research Group of eurosceptic MPs before becoming a member of Mr Johnson‘s government – and came to be seen as a standard bearer for the Brexiteer cause.

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He gave little away in terms of what is in the government’s new plan, saying: “We’ll have to wait and see what the precise details are.

“Naturally in the middle of a negotiation these matters are extremely sensitive as everyone is compromising to some degree and therefore to give negotiations the best chance of succeeding, it is best to be discreet about them.”

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The sticking point remains the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop intended to guarantee there is no return of a hard border with the island of Ireland.

Mr Barnier was reported to have raised concern about the complexity of a British plan to keep Northern Ireland in the UK customs territory while avoiding the need for border controls.

There were reported to be doubts about the feasibility of the scheme which was said to involve tracking goods as they move through Northern Ireland and then determining the tariff to be paid depending where they end up.

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It raised the prospect that negotiations could carry on after this week, with the possibility of an emergency EU summit at the end of the month to finally approve any 11th hour agreement.

However if Mr Johnson cannot get a deal by the weekend, he will come under intense pressure to seek a further Brexit delay, something he has promised not to do.

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