BRUSSELS/WARSAW (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union were on the verge of a last-minute Brexit deal on Wednesday but Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has work to do at home to ensure his government and factious parliament approve the plan.
“The basic foundations of this agreement are ready and theoretically we could accept a deal tomorrow,” said European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair a summit of EU leaders, including Johnson, on Thursday and Friday.
However, Tusk said in comments broadcast by Polish broadcaster TVN 24 that “certain doubts have appeared from the British side”, a reference to Johnson’s need to win over politicians who fear he may have conceded too much.
French President Emmanuel Macron said an agreement was being finalised and hoped it could be approved on Thursday.
“I want to believe an agreement is being finalised and that we will be able to endorse it tomorrow,” Macron said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Toulouse.
Merkel said she believed slightly more that a deal was possible.
Any approval by the EU of a deal at their summit would be conditional on the British House of Commons backing it at a special sitting on Saturday. A short delay of Britain’s Oct. 31 departure date would follow to polish the detail.
If Johnson fails to nail down the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, or fails to get a deal ratified in the UK house, he will almost certainly have to seek a longer extension of the departure date more than three years after the country voted in a referendum to leave.
After another day of technical talks in Brussels, EU officials said an agreement had been reached on customs arrangements for Northern Ireland,