Donald Tusk hands Boris Johnson last-minute Brexit boost

Ashford MP Damian Green

The EU said later that the two sides would "intensify discussions over the coming days" before an assessment on the Brexit talks would be made on Monday.

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.

An official from an European Union nation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing, said the U.K. had offered compromises on how to deal with the only EU-U.K. land border, on the island of Ireland.

"Brexit is like climbing a mountain", the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said after a "constructive" meeting with Britain's Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay on Friday morning.

He nevertheless warned that there was "no guarantee of success" and said that time was "practically up".

Details of Johnson's latest proposals have yet to emerge and it is unclear which side conceded ground at the meeting, but Varadkar told journalists on Thursday he thought it possible for a new deal to be struck by the end of this month.

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.

More news: US Presses Turkey With Threat Of Economic Sanctions

Johnson called last week for the Irish backstop to be replaced with a plan that would see Northern Ireland remain in the European single market for goods but leave the customs union along with the rest of the UK.

On his way out, Mr Barnier told reporters they had held a "constructive meeting" and that he was going to meet with ambassadors of the EU27 and the European Parliament's Brexit steering group before planning the next move.

In addition, the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont would be given a vote every four years on whether it wanted to remain aligned to the EU's customs rules. With less than three weeks left, there is still no deal agreed between Britain and the European Union over the Brexit issue.

Mrs. Foster went on to say that anything concerning Northern Ireland and Brexit could only be considered as credible if it commands cross community support from both unionists and nationalists. EU Council President Donald Tusk gave some mixed messages over the chances of a Brexit deal, saying that the UK's proposals aren't yet realistic but there are "promising signals".

One way to do that could be to extend the October 31 deadline so that negotiators have more time to work things out in legally-binding detail.

France has also long said that deadlines can not be extended forever, since Britain was originally slated to leave the bloc on March 31. De Montchalin told France Inter radio that she does not see an obvious reason to grant a further Brexit extension to the United Kingdom.

Mr Barnier is due to brief European Union ambassadors and MEPs on Monday on progress - but time is rapidly running out if they are to get an agreement in place in time for European Union leaders to sign off on it at next week's Brussels summit.

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