Boris Johnson tries to win over DUP as Brexit deal talks intensify

16 October 2019, 17:08 | Updated: 16 October 2019, 17:11

Boris Johnson is in final talks with his Brexit deal
Boris Johnson is in final talks with his Brexit deal. Picture: PA

Brexit talks have continued into the early hours ahead of a crucial EU summit starting on Thursday as the Prime Minister attempts to secure a deal before being obliged to ask for an extension.

Talks between the UK and the EU started on Wednesday morning as efforts intensify to secure a deal ahead of a key EU Summit on Thursday.

Before lunchtime members of the DUP were seen entering Downing Street for the third round of talks in three days.

Shailesh Vara, a member of the European Research Group (ERG), the hardline anti-EU band of Tory MPs, said Britain must not sign up to "any deal".

"The UK must hold its nerve. We must make it clear to the EU that whilst we are happy to have a deal, we want a deal, nevertheless it can't be any deal and hopefully the EU will see sense," the former Northern Ireland minister told the BBC.

"Nobody wants no-deal. We all want to walk away with something that is fair."

The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, spoke to Boris Johnson by phone on Wednesday morning.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “I am convinced all parties are serious about getting and agreement this week or by the end of the month. There is a pathway to a possible deal, but there are many issues that still need to be fully resolved, particularly around consent and also some issues around customs and VAT.

“I spoke to the prime minister this morning and I’ve been in contact with the [European] commission. I do think we are making progress but there are issues to be resolved and hopefully that can be done today,” he said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has rejected the suggestion that her party is now accepting the latest Brexit proposal on consent.

Irish broadcaster RTE reported that two senior EU sources had confirmed it.

But Mrs Foster tweeted: "'EU sources' are talking nonsense. Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support."

The Prime Minister needs to secure an agreement so European leaders can approve it at the Brussels summit.

A spokesperson for the British side said talks were "constructive."

A Downing Street source said progress was still being made in the talks, which ran to about 1.30 am in the Belgian capital and will resume on Wednesday morning.

The Prime Minister will hold a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to update his Ministers on the progress made.

The Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, will update the bloc on the state of the negotiations on Wednesday when he briefs EU commissioners and ambassadors.

Boris Johnson is attempting to build support for a vote, which could possibly be put before MPs as early as Saturday.

Securing a deal before the summit is crucial due to the Benn Act, which would require the Prime Minister to ask the EU for an extension to Brexit if he does not get a new deal approved by the Commons by the Saturday deadline.

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
The Brexit deal will be presented to European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: PA

Reports had suggested a deal was close ahead of a midnight deadline imposed by the EU, with the Prime Minister said to be making major concessions on the Irish border.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader and a former ERG chair, however, thinks an agreement could be accepted by MPs, telling LBC: "I think the votes are there now for a deal."

The DUP has helped prop up the Tory government following increased funding from Theresa May as part of a confidence and supply deal, in a £1 billion package branded as a "bribe."

There is speculation more money could be headed in the way of Arlene Foster's party as the PM tries to get them on board with any concessions.

The Guardian reported senior sources on both sides of the Channel saying that a draft treaty could be published on Wednesday morning after the UK agreed in principle there will be a customs border in the Irish Sea.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster
Boris Johnson is believed to be in talks with DUP Leader Arlene Foster. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, an independent report has warned the most significant risks to the UK border if there's a no-deal Brexit are now "out of the government's control."

The National Audit Office said it is likely organised criminals would quickly exploit any perceived weaknesses or gaps in enforcement.

It says while all Whitehall departments have been preparing, there would be disruption to goods and travel.

The report said: "It is impossible to know exactly what would happen at the border in the event of no-deal on October 31 2019. Departments face new challenges in monitoring and responding to any disruption that may ensue.

"This includes supporting businesses and individuals in meeting their new obligations, mitigating risks of the border becoming vulnerable to fraud, smuggling or other criminal activity, and activating civil contingency plans if necessary."

The report suggests there are 150,000 to 250,000 traders, estimated by HM Revenue & Customs, who would need to make a declaration for the first time in the event of no-deal.

The NAO said Government's reasonable worst-case planning assumptions state that the flow of goods across the short Channel crossings could initially be reduced to 45-65%, taking up to 12 months to flow normally.

Commenting on the report, a Government spokesman said: "We are doing all that is necessary to ensure that, if we do leave without a deal, the transition will be as smooth as possible for people and businesses - which the NAO recognises.

"This includes simplifying import processes, upgrading IT systems, securing additional freight capacity and putting traffic management plans in place around our busiest ports.

"As the NAO says, many of the challenges that we may face if the UK leaves the EU without a deal require businesses and citizens to take action.

"That's why we are running the largest communications campaign in recent UK history and providing targeted advice to help them get ready for Brexit on 31 October."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Global confirms biggest ever Election coverage plans with Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to take listeners' calls

Global confirms biggest ever Election coverage plans with Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to take listeners' calls

Live
The Tories hope to catch out Labour on tax.

General Election LIVE: Tories attack on tax, Starmer to answer your questions on LBC

Jeremy Hunt was made Chancellor by Liz Truss

Jeremy Hunt says he is ‘trying to achieve the same things as Liz Truss’ and ‘denies long-term effects of mini-budget’

Drink-driving limits in England are set at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood

Doctors call for drink-drive limit to be cut to one beer or single glass of wine as BMA launches campaign

Phillips headshot

Mystery of 'Bushman' dad-of-three who went missing with children - before robbing bank at gunpoint

The PM accused Sir Keir of trying to "entrench his power" by lowering the voting age

Rishi Sunak accuses Keir Starmer of only wanting to lower voting age to 'entrench his power'

Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane

Major breakthrough in MH370 mystery as nuclear sensor picks up crucial sound

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'in good spirits' and expected to make 'speedy and full recovery' after falling off stage

Sir Ian McKellen has been taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen rushed to hospital after falling off stage during West End performance

Dario G star Paul Spencer

Dario G star Paul Spencer dies aged 53 following cancer diagnosis

Reform chairman Richard Tice was speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr.

'Take them back to France': Reform will have 'standoff' with French over illegal migrants if needed, says Richard Tice

The teen was helping cut the tree down as a summer job.

Pictured: Boy, 16, crushed by 30ft tree just a day after finishing final GCSE exam - as three arrested

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Manhunt for Coventry hit-and-run suspect continues following death of boy, 12, as police urge public to 'do the right thing'

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger