International

U.K. signals it could soften Brexit stand

Britain hinted on Sunday that it could be open to changes to its latest Brexit proposals for Northern Ireland, as European leaders piled pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to revise the plans.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay reiterated that the ideas formally submitted to Brussels this week were “a broad landing zone” to be discussed during “intense negotiations in the coming days”.

He urged the bloc to show “creativity and flexibility” to secure a deal ahead of October 31 — when Mr. Johnson has vowed Britain will end its 46 years of EU membership with or without an agreement.

“We’ve set out very serious proposals, including compromise on our side,” Mr. Barclay told the BBC.

“We do need to get into the intensive negotiations on the text to clarify what the deal is.”

Mr. Barclay added the government was considering holding a parliamentary vote ahead of a make-or-break EU summit on October 17-18 to show bloc leaders that Mr. Johnson’s plans have MPs’ support.

But European leaders, who have reacted tepidly to the propositions and urged London to offer a revised, viable way forward, are yet to agree even to ramp up negotiations.

Brussels reportedly balked at Britain’s request to keep initial discussions on the proposals going through the weekend.

The EU instead want reworked plans submitted by the end of the week, with time running out ahead of the summit.

Brussels has said the plans “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

Mr. Barclay, who will travel to Amsterdam later Sunday for Brexit talks, hinted that Britain could be willing to consider alternative ways of meeting its aims. “We’re ready to work on that,” he said.

Ireland’s leader Leo Varadkar said on Saturday there is “plenty of time” for U.K. to put forward alternatives.

Source: thehindu.com

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