EU states say Michel Barnier can enter intensive 'tunnel negotiations' with UK to strike Brexit deal
Oct. 11, 2019
It comes after a positive meeting between Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar yesterday so a shift in negotiations.
Europe's chief negotiator has been given the go-ahead by ambassadors from the EU's 27 member states to enter the final stage - known as 'tunnel negotiations' - with the UK to strike a Brexit deal.
After a meeting with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, Mr Barnier briefed representatives of the EU member states who gave the green light for negotiations to be stepped up.
"It's a tunnel with a very small light at the end of it," one of the diplomats said, indicating there was not too much hope on the EU side that a divorce deal could be sealed before Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31.
But it represents a major breakthrough in the negotiations - which just a few days ago were floundering, leading Downing St sources to brief that a deal was "impossible".
Despite the breakthrough just a few hours earlier European Council President Donald Tusk said Britain's offer still isn't workable but that there were "promising signals" that parties could secure a deal - after the Irish PM threw Boris Johnson's government a lifeline in private talks yesterday.
Mr Tusk said he had received a positive message from Leo Varadkar that a deal was "still possible" after the meeting yesterday.
In a tweet he said: "The UK has still not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal.
"But I have received promising signals from Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar that a deal is possible
"Even the slightest chance must be used. A no deal Brexit will never be the choice of the EU."
Yesterday, the Irish PM and Mr Johnson declared they could "see a pathway" to a possible agreement.
This breaking news story is being updated.
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