Belfast Telegraph

Hopes of EU deal rise as PM to table new border proposal

By John Downing

Hopes of a Brexit deal within weeks have been renewed with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker signalling a new note of confidence in negotiations.

Officials in Brussels expect a fresh proposal from the UK on the Irish border after an earlier London paper was rejected by EU leaders.

Speaking in Vienna, Mr Juncker said his main focus was on securing a deal which was possible within the outer deadline of a special EU leaders' summit on November 17 and 18.

"Negotiations are not easy because we also have to be critical that we receive different signals from London," Mr Juncker told the Austrian parliament.

Yesterday the Republic's Foreign Minister hit out at leading Brexiteers for pushing "crazy" ideas about what a no deal withdrawal from the EU would mean.

The rebuke from Simon Coveney came as Dublin urged Prime Minister Theresa May to bring forward her proposals to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks over the Irish border.

When it was put to him that Brexiteers believe the Republic would not erect a border in a no deal scenario, Mr Coveney told Channel Four News: "That is a crazy argument."

In another swipe at Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr Coveney said: "You can't say we're leaving the single market, customs union, and have our own free trade agreements and we have to have seamless access to your market too.

"I always say when I'm confronted with comments that Boris Johnson has said, or Jacob Rees-Mogg has said, or indeed (former Northern Ireland Secretary) Owen Paterson have said ­­- you know, fine people who I know and I've worked with in other areas - I believe that they are not describing the full picture or its complexity in Ireland and the challenges we face here."

Dublin's Europe Minister Helen McEntee said she was confident a deal could be done but that the negotiations were reaching a "critical point".

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