Pound makes biggest gains since January 2017 on Brexit hopes

12 Octobre, 2019, 22:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Taioseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of yesterday's talks at Thornton Manor Hotel in Cheshire

BREXIT negotiations will now enter the "tunnel" phase of intensive and secretive talks in a major boost for Boris Johnson's prospects of brokering a fresh deal.

He said the United Kingdom had yet to put forward an "operational, legally binding solution" to replace the Northern Ireland backstop - meant to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic.

The meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar at a country manor on the Wirral on Thursday came after a week of abrupt exchanges between London, Dublin and Brussels.

It appears the British government has now conceded its proposals for customs checks on goods crossing the border.

A mechanism for ensuring cross-community consent for the future arrangements is also expected to be a key plank in any agreement.

"Both continue to believe a deal is in everybody's best interest", the statement said. Any deal must have legal and enduring guarantees that deliver for Ireland.

Sir Reg Empey said: "The DUP have walked Northern Ireland into a constitutional, political, economic and regulatory no man's land".

"The EU strongly objected to a proposal in Johnson's Brexit blueprint for Northern Ireland to leave the customs union together with the rest of the United Kingdom â€" meaning the return of customs controls on the island of Ireland.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: "Negotiations are at a very sensitive point".

"No veto can be given to unionism on protections for Ireland".

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The SDLP and Alliance welcomed reports of positive movement towards a compromise while Sinn Fein said the next week would be critical.

"People, businesses and communities on this island need the certainty of knowing that there will be no hard border, no physical infrastructure and no tariff wall impeding their lives and livelihoods", he said.

Following the meetings on Friday, the European Commission reiterated its position, stating that "there must be a legally operative solution in the Withdrawal Agreement that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and safeguards the integrity of the Single Market".

Former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Reg Empey said the DUP had "opened the door to the separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK".

"Once the principle of a fully integrated United Kingdom economy under one legal system is surrendered then further concessions will be sought".

Barnier said he had a "constructive" meeting with Brexit secretary Steve Barclay in Brussels earlier on Friday, and said that both the European Union and United Kingdom would be "intensifying technical discussions" in the coming days.

He also cautioned that it is not yet a "done deal".

The pound had its biggest two-day rally against the dollar since the Brexit vote as hopes rose that a deal could be struck before the deadline later this month.

Donald Tusk handed Boris Johnson a last-minute reprieve after talks with Leo Varadkar raised the prospects of a Brexit deal, but he warned the United Kingdom still has not presented a "workable, realistic proposal".

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