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‘No backstop, no agreement’: border still divides Brexit negotiators (The Times)

Michel Barnier met Dominic Raab, the UK Brexit secretary, in Brussels EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Irish border question could still scupper a Brexit deal, the EU’s chief negotiator warned after talks with his British counterpart yesterday.

Michel Barnier said that urgent work was needed to find a solution following a meeting with Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, in Brussels. He said the UK had to provide data on the nature, location and methods of checks that would be needed on the border after Brexit.

Referring to the UK’s commitment to ensure a frictionless Irish border after Brexit, Mr Barnier said: “This backstop is critical to conclude these negotiations because without a backstop there is no agreement.” The terms of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, set for March 29 next year, must be forged in principle by November at the latest, Mr Barnier said. He said it was possible to get an agreement in time for a meeting of all the EU leaders in Brussels on October 18-19.

Mr Raab said he was “stubbornly optimistic” that a deal could be reached. Simon Coveney, the tánaiste and foreign minister, tweeted in response: “So am I.”

Mr Raab said: “All in all I think the contours of an agreement and a deal on the withdrawal agreement are becoming clearer and clearer, which is a positive.

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