Dominic Raab plans to resume negotiations in Brussels next week, as the government insists it has not given up hope of sealing a Brexit deal in October — despite an admission by the Cabinet Office minister, David Lidington, the timetable could slip. The Brexit secretary has promised to approach the talks with “vim and vigour” and intends to spend more time in direct talks with the EU commission’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, than his predecessor, David Davis. Raab said on Thursday he believed a withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU27 was 80% complete and Downing Street sources said both sides were keen to complete the talks “as soon as possible”. But with the issue of the Northern Ireland border still unresolved, there is considerable work to do and the government has to contend with a vociferous campaign from a hardline group of its own MPs keen to see the prime minister “chuck Chequers”. In the first public acknowledgment by the government that October no longer looks a realistic deadline, Lidington said the EU would have no problem scheduling an emergency meeting to finalise the deal and that a November deadline would be “manageable”. His statement did not come as a… Read full this story
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