Ireland insists a Brexit deal IS still possible before EU summit

Mail Online | 10/14/2019 | James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline;Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline
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Dublin today injected fresh optimism into ongoing Brexit talks as the Irish deputy prime minister said a divorce deal could still be agreed before a crunch EU summit on Thursday.

Simon Coveney sounded a positive note as he told reporters this morning he believed 'a deal is possible' and that an accord 'may even be possible this week'.

'we - Time - Meeting - Leaders - Brussels

However, he also warned that 'we're not there yet' as time runs out ahead of a meeting of European leaders in Brussels at the end of the week.

Despite Mr Coveney's optimism, the path to an accord remains fraught with difficulty as Tory anger at the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier continues to grow after he demanded more concessions.

Mr - Barnier - Downing - Street - Bloc

Mr Barnier wants Downing Street to move even further towards the bloc's negotiating position despite mounting fears that a watered down deal will never go through Parliament.

Despite Boris Johnson having already given ground in a bid to replace the Irish backstop, Mr Barnier emerged from a weekend of frantic talks to insist the UK's blueprint is still not acceptable.

Teams - EU - Commission - Headquarters - Compromise

The two teams had locked themselves away in the EU Commission's headquarters to hammer out a compromise in time for the start of Thursday's summit - the last scheduled meeting before the Brexit deadline of October 31.

Hopes of a breakthrough rose after Mr Johnson and Irish premier Leo Varadkar declared they could see the 'pathway to a deal' last week.

Mr - Barnier - Roadblock - Settlement - Progress

But Mr Barnier, who is viewed by many as the biggest roadblock to a settlement, said there had not been 'as much progress' as anticipated during a briefing last night.

He said Britain had failed to satisfy the EU's concerns about customs checks which have dogged talks surrounding how to scrap the backstop - a mechanism designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

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