The UK has submitted “non-papers” to the EU as part of renewed efforts to break the deadlock over Brexit.
Pressure has been growing for Downing Street to put forward written proposals of alternatives to the Irish backstop, while the government has been holding out until the last minute for fear any suggestion would be “trashed” by the other side.
A government spokesman this morning said: “We have now shared in written form a series of confidential technical non-papers which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward.
“We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.”
The spokesman told City AM non-papers were “not us formally setting out the position, but it’s a policy we want to talk about”.
The EU’s spokeswoman confirmed that documents had been received “and on this basis we will have technical discussions today and tomorrow on some aspects of customs, manufactured goods and sanitary and phyto-sanitary rules”.
She added that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, would be meeting Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay tomorrow.
Although the more formal text is still shrouded in secrecy, this move marks a step towards it being shared.
This morning Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne said if documents were not received by the end of September “then it’s over.”
“If the UK wants to discuss alternatives to the existing Brexit agreement then these must be presented before the end of the month,” he told Finnish reporters.
It is thought next week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which runs from 24-30 September, could be a pivotal moment in the process. As reported by City AM, government sources have indicated the proposals could be submitted after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has attended, where he is expected to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk, as well as Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
But that leaves just over two weeks before the European Council takes place, at which Boris Johnson has said he hopes to clinch a last-minute deal.
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