Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have issued a joint statement saying they both see “a pathway to a possible deal”.
The two will now consult with their respective negotiating teams, including the EU’s Taskforce 50, ahead of further talks.
Sterling climbed 0.5 per cent to $1.2267 on the back of the news, following a week of increasingly tense briefings from Number 10 and public statements from Dublin saying a deal was “very difficult”.
The statement was issued after a “detailed and constructive discussion” in Merseyside, which ran on for longer than expected.
The statement said: “Both [Johnson and Varadkar] continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest. They agreed they could see a pathway to a possible deal.
“Their discussion concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent. They also discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral relatios, including on Northern Ireland.”
The pair went away agreeing that respective officials, including Johnson’s sherpa David Frost, would continue to “engage intensively”.
Brexit secretary Steve Barclay will meet EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow morning.
This is the most optimistic message to come out of talks so far this week, with tensions ratcheting up ahead of the weekend.
Brussels has said a compromise must be found by the end of this week if a deal is to be agreed at the European Council next Thursday. Downing Street sources have suggested Monday is their cut-off point.
European Council president Donald Tusk is expected to draw up the agenda for the summit early next week. Time is to be set aside either to discuss a deal, or, as is more widely anticipated, the details of a possible extension.
Yesterday Johnson’s team announced an extraordinary sitting session for MPs on Saturday 19 October – the day after the Council concludes, and the deadline for parliament to back a deal, as set out by the Benn Act.
If the government fails to get approval for whatever it brings back from Brussels, the law stipulates that Johnson must seek an extension to Article 50, to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Main image: Getty
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