Britain Is Still Aiming for Brexit Deal Soon: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May is edging toward a deal in Brussels, but the concessions she’s making have united opposing wings of her Conservative Party against her. The chances of getting Parliament to approve the divorce deal look slimmer than ever.

Key Developments:

* Both sides say there needs to be a breakthrough by Wednesday if a deal is to be signed off at a summit this month
* Barnier says the parameters of the deal have been clarified, but it’s not done yet
* U.K. official says Cabinet isn’t expected to be presented with a deal at its Tuesday meeting

It’s More Complicated (4:30 p.m.)

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Bloc said it’s "somewhat more complicated" than saying there’s a deal already on the table waiting for the U.K. Cabinet to accept.

He told reporters that Barnier said "both sides are getting closer to one another but in negotiations there is only a deal if there’s full agreement," and "we’re not there yet".

Labour Moves to Expose Tory Splits (4:25 p.m.)

The opposition Labour Party is going to use a vote on Tuesday to try to force the government to release the full legal advice it’s received on the proposed withdrawal agreement. This is a cunning maneuver to show up divisions in the Conservative Party. Pro-Brexit Tories suspect that the proposed “backstop” on the Irish border is a trap from which the U.K. would be unable to escape without the EU’s permission. Labour hopes that the Attorney General’s advice, if published, will confirm this.

The government doesn’t usually release legal advice it gets, but Labour is using a “humble address,” the same device it used last year to get Brexit economic impact studies released. It’ll need Tory rebels to vote with it, but that’s unlikely to be a problem.

U.K. Says Talks Go On (4 p.m.)

The U.K. is pushing back against the reports that Barnier told ministers that the parameters of a deal have been clarified.

Negotiations are ongoing, U.K. government spokesman James Slack told reporters in London.

A U.K. official said the Cabinet isn’t expected to be presented with a deal at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Barnier Says Outline of a Deal is Clearer (2:50 p.m.)

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told EU27 ministers on Monday that the "parameters" of the Brexit divorce agreement have been clarified, but an agreement hasn’t yet been reached, according to a person familiar with the situation.

But two diplomats cautioned that a deal probably wasn’t imminent. There have been near-misses before, they said. If there’s going to be a summit in November to get the deal signed off, an agreement needs to be reached within days.

Once there is an agreement, Barnier said he expects May to call a Cabinet meeting, according to the person.

Barnier set out the timetable, according to the person. If there’s an agreement this week, the divorce agreement would be published along with the outline of the political declaration on the future relationship. Then the process of getting the political declaration agreed with the U.K. will start. A summit won’t be called until that is done.


EU Wants Future Relations Based on Customs Union (12:55 p.m.)

A very detailed customs union framework will be set out in the Brexit divorce treaty, including provisions to ensure the U.K. adheres to EU standards until 2030, according to the minutes of a meeting Friday between the European Commission and national ambassadors in Brussels. Plus, the EU wants the customs union -- under current plans just a temporary measure to apply until a trade deal is struck -- to form the basis of that future agreement.

The most contentious issue in the negotiations is whether the U.K. can hold unilateral power to exit the temporary arrangement. EU governments reaffirmed their opposition to that. The EU Commission said it has been working on a “joint termination clause.”

While there’s some optimism that a deal can still be struck this week, the Commission warned there could be a breakdown at any time due to political events in the U.K. The Commission is also aware that British negotiators could try to extract concessions from the EU.

Gordon Brown Predicts Second Referendum (12:40 p.m.)

Any Brexit deal would fail to fix the U.K.’s long-term social challenges or create a sustainable relationship with the European Union, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a speech in London.

“The long-term major questions of Brexit remain unresolved” whatever the outcome of the negotiations, said Brown, who campaigned for the U.K. to stay in the EU. The former Labour leader also predicted Britain will have a second referendum, and said lawmakers should be able to send the prime minister back to Brussels to renegotiate if they don’t support the deal she gets.

Brown told the event at the Institute for Government think tank in Westminster that it would be a “travesty to democracy” if there was not a meaningful debate on the deal that May brings back from Brussels.

Wednesday Deadline for a November Summit (12:15 p.m.)

A U.K. official told reporters the government has until Wednesday to make sufficient progress on a deal if it wants the EU to call a special summit this month; the official also said the bloc has also ruled out any meetings in the first two weeks of December.

That means the pressure is on May to get something done in the next few days, or risk the critical vote in Parliament on the deal being pushed back -- potentially into January.

Coveney Says ‘Still Work to Do’ (12 p.m.)

Speaking after a meeting of Europe ministers in Brussels, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters it’s the start of an important week for Brexit.

“The two negotiating teams have really intensified their engagement,” he said. “The issues aren’t new, there’s clearly still work to do.”

During the meeting, ministers from the EU’s 27 remaining countries warned of the need to continue planning for no deal, two officials with knowledge of the talks said. Governments said they didn’t think they yet had sufficient clarity over the draft deal to arrange a summit for leaders in November.

U.K. Still Aiming for Deal in the Fall (11:34 a.m.)

May’s spokesman James Slack has just finished briefing reporters. He said senior U.K. officials were in talks with European Union negotiators until 2:45 a.m. on Monday, and the government still aims to complete a deal in the autumn.

“We want to make progress as quickly as possible, but not at any cost,” Slack said. “The PM has always said that no deal is better than a bad deal -- that continues to be the case.”

EU Sets Out Its Timetable (10:50 a.m.)

The plan is for a text of the withdrawal agreement to be finalized at negotiator level early this week, according to a person familiar with the plans. Once the draft divorce treaty is agreed, and gets political backing from the U.K. Cabinet, the European Commission will present it to member states.

Alongside it would be a six-page outline of what the future relationship should look like. Officials and then ambassadors from EU member states would discuss it toward the end of this week, then ministers would get back together again on Nov. 19, according to the person. That would allow just enough time for a one-off summit this month for the deal to be signed off.

Earlier:
EU Said to Need More Clarity From U.K Before Fixing Summit Date
Coveney: Teams Engaging Intensively, More Work Needed on Brexit

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