Downing Street dampens down talk of imminent Brexit breakthrough despite EU optimism

Posted On: 
8th October 2018

Hopes of an imminent breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations have been dashed after Downing Street insisted both sides remain far apart.

EU and UK negotiators remain far apart, according to Downing Street.
PA Images

EU chiefs have talked up the chances of a deal in recent days, with Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker saying an agreement was "not that far" away.

Senior Brussels sources also told Bloomberg that a deal on the Irish border was "very close," while Simon Coveney, the deputy prime minister in Dublin, said an agreement was "90%" done.

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But a spokesman for Theresa May insisted the Government still wants to see further concessions from the EU before an agreement can be reached.

He also played down suggestions that a deal was likely to be done at next week's crunch EU Council summit in Brussels.

The spokesman said: "We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace.

"It’s worth me pointing out that there is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal and a deal, including both a withdrawal agreement and a precise future framework, actually being agreed.

"There remain big issues to work through and as the PM has said, this will require movement on the EU side. There can be no withdrawal agreement without a precise future framework."

Meanwhile, it also emerged that the UK's latest proposals for solving the Irish border impasse may not be shown to the Cabinet before they are presented to the EU.

And in a further sign that progress in the negotiations has slowed, there are no plans for Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to travel to Brussels for face-to-face negotiations with Michel Barnier this week, as had initially been expected.