Belfast Telegraph

Juncker believes a deal can be struck before end of next month

By Sam Blewett

Jean-Claude Juncker has insisted that "we can have a deal" on Brexit ahead of the Halloween deadline.

But the European Commission president was unable to put the prospects at more than 50/50 when asked by Sky News yesterday.

Mr Juncker met with Boris Johnson in Luxembourg for Brexit discussions on Monday, before the Prime Minister headed for his ill-fated meeting with his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel.

The EU chief insisted his meeting with the PM was "rather positive", adding: "We can have a deal."

But when pressed by the broadcaster if the chances were more than 50/50, he replied: "I don't know."

He assured that he is "doing everything to have a deal" because he wanted to ward off a no deal with "catastrophic consequences".

"It's better for Britain and for the European Union to have an organised deal," he added.

Mr Juncker reassured that he has no "emotional relationship" with the Irish backstop.

"If the objectives are met - all of them - then we don't need the backstop," he added.

Mr Juncker confirmed that he had received documents from Mr Johnson outlining draft ideas for a fresh Withdrawal Agreement late on Wednesday night.

Downing Street had said the UK has shared a series of "confidential technical non-papers" which reflect the ideas being put forward.

But a "non-paper" is not a formal Government position and falls far short of what has been demanded by Brussels.

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