Friday 20 September 2019 2:54 pm

EU keen to secure Brexit deal, says Stephen Barclay after 'detailed' talks

The EU and the UK have a “shared desire” to clinch an exit deal before 31 October, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said today, though Ireland sounded a negative note on today’s talks.

Saying that “no-one” wants a no-deal Brexit, Barclay added that the two sides have held “serious detailed discussions” in a bid to reach an agreement.

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“We both recognise that a deal is in the interests of both sides,” Barclay said today after meeting EU counterpart Michel Barnier.

But he warned there was “still a lot of work to do” to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said that a Brexit deal remains a possibility.

But today Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said “we still haven’t seen any proposals” to replace the so-called Irish backstop.

The backstop remains the key sticking point between the two sides. While the EU wants it to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, MPs fear it could force the UK into an indefinite customs union with the bloc.

MPs rejected former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal three times over the backstop.

Juncker has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” for both the UK and EU.

PM Boris Johnson has submitted “non-papers” to the EU concerning alternatives to the backstop in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock.

A Downing Street spokesman told City A.M. non-papers were “not us formally setting out the position, but it’s a policy we want to talk about”.

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Speaking to Sky yesterday, Juncker said he had not yet had a chance to review the non-papers.

The government said it would submit official written papers “when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them”.