EU-UK deal pretty much done, awaits UK government approval – EU sources

A tentative, technical Brexit deal between the European Union and Britain was largely ready in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and awaited an “overall backing” by the government in London, said sources within bloc.

Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is briefing EU officials now while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is talking to the Opposition parties in the Dáil. 

“The level playing field and customs are agreed. Consent by the Northern Irish assembly every four years,” said an EU official.

An EU diplomat confirmed that was the case, with just some haggling remaining on Vat arrangements.

“Plus an overall backing from the British government is needed to launch it all,” the person said.

French President Emmanuel Macron today said a deal with Britain on its departure from the European Union was being finalised and could potentially be agreed on at a European Council summit 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 joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel said “the news from Brussels could be worse, we must await what Barnier comes up with”.

Earlier Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a meeting of Conservative politicians the European Union and Britain were almost there on a Brexit deal but that the peak of the mountain was still partly shrouded in cloud, sources in the room told Reuters.

Johnson, according to a source at the meeting of the 1922 Committee of Conservatives, made a short bouncy speech which was very well received.

“There was a sense of relief in the room that we are almost there, it has been a long slog,” a Conservative lawmaker told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“People definitely think a deal is doable. He expressed enough confidence that that was doable,” the lawmaker said.

According to another lawmaker, Johnson said: “We’re not there yet. We are ascending the mountain, peak is in sight though partly shrouded in cloud.”

Brexit-supporting Conservative politician Steve Baker said the deal sounded like it could be tolerable.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson suggested her party could vote for any deal Boris Johnson may achieve if it will be put to the people in a confirmatory referendum.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s no deal that is better than the deal we have as members of the European Union, so of course we are not going to be supportive of any deal.

More to follow…

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