Donald Tusk, the outgoing European Council President, has warned the “UK has still not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal” and time to reach a Brexit agreement was “practically up”. Mr Tusk did, however, note the Prime Minister’s positive discussions with Leo Varadkar on Thursday. Mr Tusk also revealed how he gave Mr Johnson a private deadline to outline Brexit proposals to the European Union to try to get a deal over the line before the UK’s scheduled departure from the bloc at the end of the month.
Speaking in Cyprus, Mr Tusk said: “A week ago I told Prime Minister Johnson that if there was no such proposal by today I would announce publicly that there are no more chances because of objective reasons for a deal during the incoming European Council.
“However, yesterday when the Irish Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister met they both saw a pathway to a deal.
“I have received positive signals from the Taoiseach that a deal is still possible.
“Technical talks are taking place in Brussels as we speak. Of course, there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up. But, even the slightest chance must be used.”
Donald Tusk said a deal was still possible (Image: SKYNEWS•GETTY)
Donald Tusk delivering his speech on Friday morning (Image: SKYNEWS)
Shortly after his statement, Mr Tusk wrote on Twitter: “The UK has still not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal.
“But I have received promising signals from Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar that a deal is possible.
“Even the slightest chance must be used. A no deal #Brexit will never be the choice of the EU.”
The statement comes just a day after a positive meeting between the Irish Taoiseach and Prime Minister Mr Johnson on Thursday.
Donald Tusk posted a tweet online shortly after his speech aired (Image: TWITTER)
After more than two hours of “detailed and constructive” discussions at a country manor on the Wirral, the two leaders said it was in “everybody’s interest” to get an agreement which would allow the UK to leave with a deal.
Mr Varadkar said he hoped the progress they had made would be “sufficient” to enable intensive negotiations to resume in Brussels ahead of next week’s crucial EU summit.
The Taoiseach said: “I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and to have that done by the end of October, but there’s many a slip between cup and lip.
“In terms of how long it will take, I can’t predict that with any certainty, but I think all sides would like there to be an agreement next week at the council if possible.
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Boris Johnson met with Leo Varadkar on Thursday for crunch talks (Image: GETTY)
Following the meeting, Leo Varadkar said it was still possible for an agreement to be reached (Image: GETTY)
“Obviously there’s a further deadline after that which is the 31st of October, so I would say a short pathway rather than a long one, but it’s impossible to predict that for sure.”
Mr Varadkar refused to be drawn on any “concessions” made by either side, while UK Government sources refused to be drawn on Irish press reports suggesting “significant movement” by the UK.
Ireland’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, told Ireland’s Newstalk station, the talks on Thursday between the UK and Irish leaders were a “positive discussion”.
He said: “What happened yesterday was a positive discussion but the real detail discussion will begin now and that will be in Brussels.”
Brexit calendar: Key dates before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU (Image: NC)
Even the slightest chance must be used. A no deal Brexit will never be the choice of the EU
On Wednesday, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Mr Barnier told the European Parliament there was still no basis for a fresh agreement.
He said the UK had yet to put forward an “operational, legally binding solution” to replace the Northern Ireland backstop – intended to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said the UK will leave the European Union without a deal at the end of October.
But, Mr Johnson has also said he will abide with the law, despite the so-called Benn Act in place, which would require him to request a three-month Brexit delay if there is no agreement by October 19.
Government sources have said ministers are preparing to hold an emergency Saturday sitting of Parliament on October 19.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will leave the EU at the end of the month (Image: GETTY)
Earlier this week Brexit negotiations appeared to be on the brink, following an intense phone conversation between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Prime Minister.
Following the phone conversation, Number 10 sources claimed the EU was making it “essentially impossible” for Britain to leave with a deal.
The reports from Number 10 sparked a furious response from EU leaders, including that of Mr Tusk.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay met with Mr Barnier on Friday morning as the chances of a breakthrough on securing a deal were given a huge boost after Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar’s discussions.