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Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar hailed a Brexit breakthrough last night following an extraordinary summit on Merseyside.
After three hours of talks at a country manor on the Wirral, the Prime Minister and his Irish counterpart said they could see a 'pathway to a possible deal'.
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Mr Varadkar, who has long been seen as the roadblock to an agreement, added that he even believed a deal could be 'done by the end of October'.
He described the meeting – which included more than 90 minutes where the two leaders negotiated without officials – as 'very positive' and said he was 'absolutely convinced' Mr Johnson wanted an agreement.
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In the wake of the apparent breakthrough, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay travelled to Brussels for a crunch breakfast meeting today with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Both sides hope that if the meeting goes well, it will lead to the so-called 'tunnel' of intensive negotiations in the coming days – ahead of a crunch EU summit next Thursday.
Governments - Concessions - Compromise - Cabinet - Members
However, both the British and Irish governments were tight-lipped about the concessions that had been offered to find a compromise. Even Cabinet members were not immediately briefed on the details.
It was claimed there had been 'very significant movement' from the British side on the controversial issue of customs checks, but this was later disputed by a Cabinet source.
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And Mr Varadkar warned that negotiations on a deal could yet collapse, saying: 'There's many a slip between cup and lip and lots of things that are not in my control.'
The summit, at Thornton Manor in Merseyside, was attended by only the PM's most senior officials, including chief adviser Dominic Cummings and Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill. At one point, the two leaders even took a walk in the grounds as they strove to find a way through the impasse.
When they emerged, they...
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