UK ‘softens Brexit position’ in final push for deal

U.K. Brexit minister Stephen Barclay shakes hands with EU negotiator Michel Barnier in July this year | Francois Walschaerts/AFP via Getty Images

UK ‘softens Brexit position’ in final push for deal

EU diplomats cautiously optimistic after UK agreed to new basis for talks.

By , and

10/11/19, 9:58 PM CET

Updated 10/12/19, 1:30 AM CET

A path to a Brexit deal opened Friday — but there’s still a long way to go and very little time.

EU diplomats said the U.K.’s willingness to soften its position on customs arrangements for Northern Ireland provided the breakthrough that led officials to announce they would resume intense negotiations.

The EU27 in turn restated openness to creating a “consent” mechanism that would give the government in Northern Ireland a say over how the border is managed after Brexit, a diplomat said.

The movement, which first began to show in positive mood music following a meeting Thursday between U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, led the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to announce the resumption of serious talks.

Johnson has promised to take the U.K. out of the European Union by October 31, “do or die,” and next week’s meeting of EU leaders at a European Council summit is the last chance to get a deal before that deadline.

The diplomats also cautioned that there was fear in Brussels that London might be bluffing.

Downing Street declined to comment but U.K.

 »