Published On: Wed, Sep 4th, 2019

Boris close to Brexit BREAKTHROUGH – But EU spooked by Remainer coup | UK | News

The astonishing breakthrough saw EU chiefs finally signalling a willingness to ensure the Prime Minister walks away with a deal – but he first must convince Brussels that he has the support of MPs for his plans. He has told his counterparts that they must scrap the controversial Northern Ireland backstop if leaders stand any chance of delivering a Brexit deal. While Brussels remains steadfast in its demand to keep the measure, officials and diplomats have conceded there is room to introduce alternative measures to avoid customs checks on the Irish border.

This would not amount to a wholesale renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement, however, the Prime Minister’s officials will be allowed to perform keyhole surgery on the backstop.

One EU diplomate said: “The backstop is a protocol, so in essence, it’s not reopening the withdrawal agreement.

“If it’s a solution, a real one, I don’t think reopening the withdrawal agreement will be a problem.”

David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator, is today holding talks with his opposite number in the European Commission, Stephanie Riso.

The pair will sit down, with teams of customs and regulatory experts, as they pick apart the backstop part-by-part.

A UK source said: “The team intends that run through a range of issues including the removal of the backstop.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that there will be no deal unless the withdrawal agreement is reopened and the backstop taken out.”

Mr Johnson last night confirmed that his proposals are centred on establishing a regime that requires alignment with the bare minimum of EU product safety checks.

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It compares to a compromise being cooked up by EU capitals, where Northern Ireland would be expected to align with Brussels on animal and plan health rules.

This will please the British negotiation team, who have told their EU counterparts that they expect a joint effort to renegotiate the backstop.

Mr Frost will refuse to simply present British plans for them to be shot down at the Brussels negotiating table.

But first he will be expected to answer a series of questions on the political chaos in London.

Brussels was carefully watching the antics of Remainer MPs in Westminster, fearing that their effort to block no deal could scupper Brexit talks with the Government.

“He has lost his majority and lost control, there is no evidence an election would fix it. It seems futile to continue discussions,” said an EU diplomat.

“We can’t be sure that whatever were to come out of any talks will ever get anywhere. If we were prepared to give up the backstop altogether he is powerless to get it ratified.”

Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, will brief member state ambassadors today.

According to Commission officials, he will tell the senior diplomats that the chances of no-deal Brexit has “never been closer”.

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