The Irish government moved to dampen hopes of an imminent breakthrough in Brexit negotiations, a day after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s comment that a divorce deal is possible sent the pound to its highest level against the dollar in two months. But Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned on Friday a deal is “not close.”
- Juncker says a Brexit deal is possible by the end of October
- Coveney says that while the mood is better, a deal is no nearer
- Chief executive of Dover port says it’s 100% ready for a no-deal Brexit
- Pound pares gains; trades 0.1% higher at $1.2539 at 9:50 a.m.
U.K. ‘Confident’ of Getting Deal: Kwarteng (8:45 a.m.)
U.K. Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng disputed Simon Coveney’s assertion (see 8:25 a.m.) that the European Union has yet to hear concrete proposals from the U.K. and that a significant gap remains between the two sides on Brexit.
“Things have moved a long way in seven weeks,” Kwarteng told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. The EU “wouldn’t have moved in the direction they have done if they hadn’t heard anything from us,” he said, referring to the “extremely positive”
comments from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday.
“There has been progress, I’m confident we can get a deal, I’m also confident we can get a deal through the House of Commons,” he said.
Ireland: Deal is Not Close, Despite Juncker Claim (8:25 a.m.)
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, poured a large measure of cold water over the optimism for a deal that followed Juncker’s statement that an agreement can be reached by the Oct. 31 deadline.
“I think the mood music has improved,” Coveney told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. “There is an intent I think by all sides to try and find a landing zone if you want to call it that, that everybody can live with.”
Even though the atmosphere is better, the substance of the talks on what to do about the backstop remains stuck. “We need to be honest with people and say that we’re not close to that deal right now,” he said.
Britain is making “a very unreasonable request” in suggesting Ireland should abandon a guarantee to avoid a hard border with the U.K. — the so-called backstop — for a promise to try to avoid it later, Coveney said.
Dover Says It’s 100% Ready for No-Deal Brexit (Earlier)
The Port of Dover — through which a sixth of the U.K.’s trade in goods flows — can cope with any disruption thrown up by a no-deal Brexit, Chief Executive Officer Doug Bannister said, suggesting some of the direr predictions of chaos are wide of the mark.
“The Port of Dover is 100% ready,” he said in an interview. “Ferry operators: 100% ready. Calais, Dunkirk: 100% ready.”
Bannister said he recognized the government’s Operation Yellowhammer projections for lengthy tailbacks and waiting times in a no-deal Brexit – but said he views them as a “worst, worst case scenario.” He said he expects there to be some disruption, but at a level that his staff and the port can cope with.
The one big unknown, he said, are “the rules of the game” – that is what paperwork truck drivers carrying freight will need, how they’ll have to submit it, and by when.
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