FT: EU weighs Irish border compromise in tentative Brexit deal

FT: EU weighs Irish border compromise in tentative Brexit deal

He was speaking in Paris after talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has told MPs he expects a deal on the UK's exit from the European Union by 21 November, and said agreement on the Irish border issue was "not far off".

The British government and European Union officials have played down hopes for an imminent Brexit deal, emphasising that while an agreement is close the two sides still have work to do.

But ties have been tested over the last two years with Ireland a key player on the opposite side of the Brexit negotiating table to Britain.

Since Downing Street's rejection negotiations have intensified in a bid to resolve the ongoing issue impeding the Brexit deal.

Sources said Mr Coveney and Mr Lidington will speak by phone over the weekend and there has been speculation in British political circles that Mrs May could present a final deal to her cabinet as soon as Tuesday.

The financial services deal was part of the overall Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to strike by the end of the year at the latest, the second official said.

Britain is due to leave the European Union in five months' time but has yet to seal the terms of a withdrawal agreement - which will involve a status quo transition lasting almost two years - or reach a deal on what kind of trade relationship it will have with the bloc after that.

The letter, released by the committee on Wednesday, was dated October 24 and therefore does not reflect any breakthrough in the past few days.

But the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up the Conservative British government, won't accept that approach because it means there would be customs and regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The only remotely good news from a unionist point of view is that the United Kingdom is trying insofar as possible to keep Northern Ireland in the same customs arrangement as the rest of the UK.

Agreeing to a customs union in the withdrawal agreement would mean the EU had ceded its leverage by providing tariff-free trade on seafood into the internal market without reciprocal guarantees on access to British waters.

"If that happens I think it's possible to ensure we get a withdrawal agreement that can be sold on both sides of the Irish Sea".

"Both sides agree that this backstop can not provide for a permanent UK/EU relationship and are committed to a future relationship that works for the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland".

"We are open to talking about ways to achieve this and committed to continuing discussions in order to reach an agreement".

Asked twice by the BBC whether it had ruled out any new regulatory checks at the Irish border, he said: 'We are engaged in a negotiation process.

"We are making progress", the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters, adding that the financial services deal would be based on the EU's existing "equivalence" system.

"While considerable progress has been made on the security front, the need for continued action against paramilitaries and ongoing vigilance remains".