Barclay and Barnier holding make-or-break Brexit talks
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is meeting the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels to assess whether they can salvage a deal by next week.
The pair will see if there are grounds to move forward, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar yesterday said they could "see a pathway to a possible deal".
Friday marks 20 days until Brexit – but just eight before Mr Johnson will be forced to ask for a delay if he has not secured an agreement.
After the bilateral talks in Wirral yesterday, Mr Varadkar said he hoped the progress they had made would be enough to restart intensive negotiations Brussels ahead of next week's crucial EU summit.
Mr Johnson almost certainly needs the gathering of 28 leaders in Brussels on October 17 and 18 to sign off on an agreement in order to be able to take the UK out of the European Union on 31 October with a deal.
The upbeat mood is a big turnaround from three days ago, when Downing Street said a deal was "essentially impossible" after a call between the prime minister and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Irish Times reports that there has been "significant movement" from the British side on customs, which could mean a revival of the backstop or a customs border in the Irish sea.
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The backstop is designed as an insurance mechanism to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland regardless of the future EU-UK trade relationship.
Speaking to reporters at Liverpool Airport before his return to Dublin, Mr Varadkar said while there were still issues to be resolved, he believed it was possible to meet the Halloween deadline.