They seem to be getting serious now?
A path to a Brexit deal opened Friday — but there’s still a long way to go and very little time.
EU diplomats said the U.K.’s willingness to soften its position on customs arrangements for Northern Ireland provided the breakthrough that led officials to announce they would resume intense negotiations.
The EU27 in turn restated openness to creating a “consent” mechanism that would give the government in Northern Ireland a say over how the border is managed after Brexit, a diplomat said.
The movement, which first began to show in positive mood music following a meeting Thursday between U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, led the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to announce the resumption of serious talks.
Johnson has promised to take the U.K. out of the European Union by October 31, “do or die,” and next week’s meeting of EU leaders at a European Council summit is the last chance to get a deal before that deadline.
“The diplomats also cautioned that there was fear in Brussels that London might be bluffing.”
Downing Street declined to comment but U.K. officials indicated it was not the case that Northern Ireland would stay in the EU customs union.
EU27 diplomats, who were briefed by Barnier, conceded that assessment was at least partially correct because although “any solution will involve Britain moving on the borders,” according to one diplomat, no solution had yet been agreed.
Speaking during a visit to a school Friday afternoon, Johnson ducked questionsabout customs arrangements in Northern Ireland.
“Well, I can certainly tell you that under no circumstances will we see anything that damages the ability of the whole of the United Kingdom to take full advantage of Brexit,” Johnson said….
image….European Council President Donald Tusk, left, hit out at U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter | Pool photo by Neil Hall via Getty Images