Theresa May plays down EU’s ‘optimistic talk’ over deal

 The Prime Minister remains cautious over Brexit negotiations, warning there are bigger issues which still need to be resolved within the EU.

London and Brussels have played down the prospect of an immediate breakthrough as Brexit negotiators entered a week of intensive negotiations about the Irish Border-backstop dispute. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has postponed the publication of a paper about the future relationship between Britain and the EU after Brexit.

Mrs May’s spokesman said there is a difference between optimistic talk about a deal being done and it actually happening. 

The EU still needs to move its position for negotiations to proceed and there can be no withdrawal agreement without a precise future framework with the EU, he added.

The comments came after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he is sure an agreement could be reached in November ahead of the UK’s departure in March.

Mr Juncker told newspapers that Brexit without a deal “would not be good for the UK, as it is for the rest of the union.

“I have reason to think that the rapprochement potential between both sides has increased in recent days, but I cannot be foreseen whether we will finish in October, if not we’ll do it November.”

Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, echoed that optimism, claiming on Sunday that 90-percent of the Brexit deal is complete.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman gave an assessment of the situation, saying: “We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace.

“It is worth me pointing out that there’s a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal and a deal, including both withdrawal agreement and the future framework, actually being agreed.

“There remain big issues to work through and, as the PM has said, this will require movement on the EU side.”

The UK and EU are taking part in ‘technical negotiations’ this week, Downing Street confirmed.

EU leaders will discuss the progress of the talks at a meeting in Brussels from Wednesday 17 October to Friday 19 October.

Once enough progress has been made, a special Brexit summit will be held in November to finalise the withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future trading relationship.

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