EU’s Juncker hopes for Brexit deal in November

PA Archive  PA Images               DUP leader Arlene Foster Chief Whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson then Chief Whip Gavin Williamson and Theresa May

Juncker's comments come after negotiators in Brussels predicted the two sides were "very close" to a deal being finalised, after European Council president Donald Tusk offered an enhanced Canada-style trade deal to the United Kingdom on Thursday. The Soviet Union was about prisons and gulags, borders and walls, violence against citizens and neighbours. The EU is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace.

He added that as someone who had spent half of his life under Soviet rule, "I know what I am talking about".

In her Conservative conference speech on Wednesday, the prime minister said: "I have treated the European Union with nothing but respect".

But officials have been meeting behind the scenes before a key summit in Brussels on October 17 and 18.

Nationalists in Northern Ireland have said Stormont should not have a say over the Brexit backstop.

"We are going in the right direction", a senior European Union diplomat said separately of the work on the Irish fix.

'We have to get away from this no-deal scenario.

He said the EU's proposal for an enhanced version of the free trade deal it negotiated with Canada - sometimes referred to as "Canada+++" - was still on the table.

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A majority of the Cabinet reportedly now supports moving towards a Canada-style trade deal over Mrs May's plan to keep the country tied to European Union rules on goods, therefore hindering an independent trade policy.

He stressed that the European Union remained committed to the Iran nuclear deal, adding that "We are in intensive talks with Americans about it", Sputnik reported.

Juncker, whose optimism was echoed in comments on Saturday by European Council President Donald Tusk, said that the potential for a rapprochement had grown in the last few days, confirming what diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

He also said that if the government needs to help businesses and farmers affected by Brexit, it could dip into the state's new "rainy day fund" - a contingency reserve that will be set up next year to shield the economy from future shocks.

Critics were quick to point out that Brussels' uncompromising stance on the Irish border appears to contradict this statement, as a trade deal allowing some diversion on goods regulations, unlike Theresa May's Chequers proposals, would require checks on the border.

An EU leaders' summit is due in Brussels on October 17 and if a deal is close a special Brexit meeting could be called in November to sign off on it.

"I have hope close to certainty that we will manage to reach an agreement both on exit and on best possible future relations".

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