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On Thursday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London for urgent talks in one last attempt for a deal as the transition period looms closer.
Officials say the negotiators from both sides are aiming to strike a last-minute trade deal to avoid a no-deal Brexit outcome.
An EU official said: “They’re negotiating intensively over the weekend.
“Let’s see after that.”
Just two weeks remain before it would be impossible to get a deal in place by the end of the transition period in December.
Both teams have informally agreed to stand down their media operations during the weekend talks signalling the talks are being taken seriously.
If the negotiations are deemed to be successful, a formal “tunnel” could be declared as early as next week.
It is believed during the “tunnel” phase a handful of negotiators will be work in secrecy to hammer out a deal.
All documents are left unpublished, press reaction or comment is off-limits and the EU27 ambassadors are not informed of the progress.
Brexit negotiations came to an end earlier this month as the deadline for talks came and went without a deal being agreed upon.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the EU an extra 24 hours but the extension proved futile.
Mr Johnson was coerced back into the negotiating table by Mr Barnier who tried to patch-up the relationship between the two sides.
On Wednesday, Mr Barnier told the European Parliament that “an agreement is within reach if we are on both sides prepared to work constructively and in a spirit of compromise”.
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A Downing Street spokesperson added: “It is clear that significant gaps remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, but we are ready, with the EU, to see if it is possible to bridge them in intensive talks.”
This week French Europe minister Clement Beaune lashed out at the UK claiming if Britain wanted a no deal they would not have extended the deadline.
He told French television: “We thought the end of October was the final deadline.
“We are giving ourselves a few more days to give the negotiations a chance, but we need to know quickly.
“If the British thought they could live with the ‘freedom’ of no deal outside the EU, if it was so easy and so comfortable, they would have already left without a deal.”
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “Intensive talks are continuing and they will continue over the weekend until the 25.
“We’ve published a set of principles for handling these intensified talks and they will continue over the weekend.”
The EU has also offered a further round of talks to be held in Brussels next week.
It is believed “tunnel” negotiations are expected to take place if there are no further derailments.
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