After night-time negotiations, European and British negotiators have not yet succeeded in finding a breakthrough for an agreement on the withdrawal of Britain from EU.
A EU diplomat said there will be further consultations today. Time is running out for the negotiators. If there is no agreement before October 31, the UK will leave EU without any transitional arrangement.
London and Brussels seemed close to a draft agreement yesterday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have made important concessions on the Irish border issue. Specifically, he would have agreed to customs controls in the Irish Sea, something his predecessor Theresa May had categorically rejected because it would undermine the union between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain.
The key issue here is whether, in the event of a possible customs inspection at sea, the British province of Northern Ireland or whether or not import duties and taxes will remain subject to EU rules. In that case Great Britain remains partially connected with laws and rules of the EU. Most British politicians are strongly against that.
Johnson would catch up with his cabinet at the end of the day about the state of affairs, The Guardian knows. The Northern Irish political ally of the Johnson government, the Northern Irish unionist DUP party, would have objected to the concessions that the British would have made in Brussels.
The negotiators want to present a proposal to the 27 EU member states on Thursday, when a two-day summit of European government leaders starts. If the EU leaders agree to an agreement, British Prime Minister Johnson must also see the agreement lead through his parliament on Saturday. That voted against the brexit deal of his predecessor Theresa May three times. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the status of the border between the British Northern Ireland and EU Member State Ireland.
British Prime Minister Johnson has always said he will hold on to a farewell on October 31, with or without an agreement. A majority of the British parliament certainly does not want to leave the EU without a deal. The parliamentarians have passed a law against the will of the government to prevent that scenario.
The law, the so-called Benn Act, states that Johnson must come up with a deal no later than Saturday. It also has to be approved by parliament. If the prime minister does not manage that, he must request a postponement of the brexit. The EU member states still have to agree.