European Union negotiators predict Brexit deal to be 'very close'

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Spain, sitting just north of Gibraltar - which will leave the European Union along with Britain - and Cyprus briefed on talks with London over two separate protocols that will be added to any withdrawal deal, the sources said.

"This would unite the Conservative Party, be a good deal for the country, deliver on Brexit and it is really hard to see why the Government is not embracing this", Rees-Mogg said. Much further-reaching on trade, on internal security and on foreign policy cooperation.

Appealing to the public for help with funding the legal challenge, Mr Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, said: "This is a case vital in our national interest".

"As the president of the European Council and someone who spent half his life in the Soviet bloc, I know what I am talking about".

The EU signalled on Thursday that it was engaging with new proposals emerging in Britain on how to avoid extensive checks on the Irish border after Brexit, a key potential deal-breaker in the unprecedented talks.

In another swipe at Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr Coveney told the channel: "You can't say we're leaving the single market, customs union, and have our own free trade agreements and we have to have seamless access to your market too".

Mr Tusk said the European Union remained "united behind Ireland" and the need to "preserve the Northern Ireland peace process".

Simon Coveney
Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney

"I do understand all the sensitivities from all the communities in Northern Ireland and we need to move this issue forward and we need to come to a resolution".

"To suggest the DUP holds the whip hand over the negotiations I don't think is accurate or fair, or reasonable", he added.

Varadkar poured cold water on the UK's proposals.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said United Kingdom officials were understood to be working on plans for a "hybrid backstop" with light-touch regulatory checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the possibility of some kind of democratic oversight from Stormont and a temporary extension of the customs union to the whole of the United Kingdom in the event that a free trade deal has not been completed.

The Irish leader was speaking to journalists in between a series of meetings with European Union leaders in Brussels, as exit talks enter a critical fortnight before the make-or-break October summit.

And asked about the prospect of "light touch regulatory checks" between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mr Dodds asked why such techniques could not be used on the land frontier in Ireland.

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