Brexit talks are nearing their endgame, UK PM May says

GettyBritish Prime Minister Theresa May

A British government source said an agreement on a withdrawal deal was closer than it had been on Monday, after negotiators worked late into the night at the European Commission's modernist Berlaymont building in Brussels.

Under a 1998 peace deal, Northern Ireland's 1.8 million people are entitled to an Irish passport, a British passport or both.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman rejected suggestions that Wednesday represents a hard deadline to arrange a summit, repeating Mrs May's position that she wants a deal "as soon as possible" but that it "can't be at any cost".

The EU has asked the United Kingdom government of Prime Minister Theresa May to include a so-called Irish backstop in its Brexit plans which would act as a kind of insurance policy to ensure the border remains open even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"Most people in Northern Ireland either want [to remain in the EU] or to have the backstop", he said, adding that a no-deal Brexit would damage the local economy, which relies heavily on unfettered access to the Irish market and the free movement of people.

"There are still anti-peace process elements in society and any erection of hard borders on the island of Ireland will bring unwanted attention", she said.

The core issue is that May and her negotiating team have floated several ideas for a deal - essentially picking and choosing parts of European Union membership they like (lucrative trading conditions) but wanting to get rid of elements they don't like (freedom of movement of people).

"So we do not make an assessment at each point in time about the likelihood of something else - it's just a matter of assumption in the forecasts".

In a stinging attack on the PM's proposals ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said Mrs May's agenda would see the United Kingdom "remain in captivity".

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She also said that Britain was open to better relations with Russian Federation after ties plunged to a post-Cold War low over an attack involving a military-grade nerve agent on English soil.

His brother, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, claimed Mrs May is on the brink of "total surrender" to the European Union over Brexit as he urged the Cabinet to mutiny against the Prime Minister's withdrawal agenda.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told Sky News on Monday that the cabinet would be a "check" on the deal. "It has got to be one that works in terms of feeling we can deliver on the referendum result and that is why there is a measure of caution".

Mr Johnson's stinging attack on Number 10 comes days after his brother, Jo, quit his role as transport minister.

"I challenge the Government to come clean on the cost of Brexit", he told the Evening Standard. "It leaves us with less influence, less controls over the rules we have to follow". "It's a gross abuse of civil service impartiality".

Downing Street has also been hit by the resignation of Remain-supporting minister Jo Johnson on Friday, who warned that the prime minister was offering the public a choice between "vassalage and chaos" and called for a fresh Brexit referendum.

U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan said on November 9 it expects parliament to reject the deal at first and then, after a period of volatility, to give its approval on a second or even third go in early January.

Eighteen percent of companies said they did not know how the pound would shift after Brexit and almost two-thirds said they were not doing anything to prepare for a weaker pound, the survey showed.


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