Jean Claude Juncker: We are not far from agreeing a Brexit deal with the UK
Britain and the EU are "not far" from agreeing a Brexit deal, Jean-Claude Juncker has claimed.
In a major boost for Theresa May, the European Commission president told Austrian journalists that an agreement should be reached in time for a special summit in November.
He said: "We are not that far yet. But our will is unbroken to reach agreement with the British government."
Mr Juncker's comments came after EU sources told Bloomberg that a deal on the issue of the Irish border was "very close".
Europea minister Alan Duncan told the BBC’s Any Questions last night that a deal was likely to be agreed by either October or November.
"We are in the art of the possible here, and from what I see in government, I think that we will get a deal, be it in October or November at the two consecutive summits," he said.
However, the EU's official response to the Prime Minister's Chequers plan on Wednesday is expected to offer a much less comprehensive trade deal than she had hoped for.
Sources said only “about 30-40%” of the Prime Minister’s proposal is expected to be included in EU plans, with Brussels demanding “level playing field” conditions to prevent the UK undercutting EU laws on labour, state aid and regulatory standards.
EU diplomats told Bloomberg that the bloc’s proposal would be relatively vaguely worded and couched in positive language to help the Prime Minister sell the deal to Tory backbenchers.
The limited nature of the proposals is likely to intensify dissent among the Conservative Party’s Brexiteers, who are demanding that Mrs May pursue a so-called "Super Canada" deal instead.