Donald Tusk hands Boris Johnson last-minute Brexit boost

UK Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay left shakes hands with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier before their meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels Friday Oct. 11 2019

Donald Tusk handed Boris Johnson a last-minute reprieve after talks with Leo Varadkar raised the prospects of a Brexit deal, but he warned the United Kingdom still has not presented a "workable, realistic proposal".

Speaking to reporters, Mr Barnier called for patience, and added: "Brexit is like climbing a mountain".

The softer mood music after Mr Johnson's meeting with the Taoiseach followed an intensive few days which saw an acrimonious war of words explode and the talks appear close to collapse.

BREXIT negotiations will now enter the "tunnel" phase of intensive and secretive talks in a major boost for Boris Johnson's prospects of brokering a fresh deal.

With UK officials remaining tight-lipped, there has been intense speculation over what was said at the talks at Thornton Manor between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which enabled the process to move forward.

Reports from Brussels claim the Prime Minister is bringing back a proposal first put forward by Theresa May for a customs partnership between the United Kingdom and the bloc.

It noted that any deal must contain a "legally operative solution" that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland while protecting the island's economy, the Good Friday peace accord and the EU's single market.

"Of course, there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up".

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The tepid positivity came after Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar said they could "see a pathway" to a possible agreement following face-to-face discussions in the Wirral.

The prime minister put forward revised proposals for a deal last week, created to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. While there's no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the European Union has previously rejected, one European Union official said that it could yet be considered.

Addressing the Co-operative Party conference in Glasgow, Mr Starmer said that if Mr Johnson was unable to secure a deal at next week's crucial European Union summit, he must comply with the so-called Benn Act and seek a further delay.

Barnier was expected to brief the European Parliament's Brexit Steering group on progress on Friday afternoon.

The UK is due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on 31 October.

With the British Parliament and government both rejecting the withdrawal treaty negotiated by Theresa May, and the European Union rejecting a rehash of the treaty with some alternative arrangements for the customs border between EU member-state the Republic of Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland put forward by Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom is now headed for a clean break with the bloc - or, if anti-Brexit MPs have their way, yet another Brexit delay.

Support from DUP MPs could be crucial to get a deal through Parliament.

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