UK Brexit minister to meet EU negotiator Thursday: London

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LONDON, Oct 9, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Britain’s Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay
will meet EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Thursday, as
talks on the country’s exit from the bloc reach a critical stage, Downing
Street said.

“They will discuss the state of play following a week of technical talks,”
the spokesman from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said on Wednesday.

Johnson is expected to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar later this
week to discuss the Irish border — the thorniest issue in the talks.

Brussels and London have only a few days left to secure agreement on
Britain’s exit terms before a crucial summit of EU leaders on October 17 and
18.

Britain is due to leave the EU on October 31 and Johnson insists he will
keep to that deadline.

However, a law passed by rebel MPs would force him to ask to delay Brexit
if he has not reached a deal in time — something he says he will not do.

The government is planning to hold a special Saturday session of parliament
on October 19, the day after the EU summit, whether or not there is a deal.

Tempers frayed on both sides of the Channel on Tuesday after a testy phone
call between Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Downing Street sources briefed that Merkel’s intransigence meant the talks
were close to breaking down, and European Council President Donald Tusk
accused Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game”.

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