05:32 GMT14 August 2020
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    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly pitched to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar a more limited free trade agreement (FTA), instead of focusing on a fully-formed withdrawal accord.

    In particular, the FTA proposal envisages a "pared-down free trade agreement" to end the Brexit impasse and get a divorce deal with the European Union inked by the scheduled 31 October deadline, Sky News reported Thursday, citing sources in Brussels.

    According to sources cited by Sky News, the FTA will not resolve all of the issues that have pursued the existing British proposals, but is said to be a "cleaner and more straightforward" approach that could eventually create the framework for a more large-scale Brexit deal.

    Brussels is reportedly encouraged by the positive feedback in Thursday's talks, and the backing of Irish PM Varadkar could become a key in persuading other EU leaders to support a divorce deal, Sky News said.

    Earlier, the EU reportedly said that a majority of the countries in the block would support a proposal that is backed by the Irish prime minister.

    An FTA between the UK and the EU would reportedly remove all tariffs on goods after Brexit. The agreement, however, will not remove the need for customs checks - a current sticking point in the stalled Brexit talks.

    Last week, Johnson unveiled his new Brexit blueprint, revolving around an all-Ireland regulatory framework on cross-border trade. Under his plan, Northern Ireland would exit the EU customs union with the rest of the UK after the end of the transition period, albeit with some form of regulatory checks in place for goods crossing the Irish Sea from the British island to the six counties.

    Johnson’s new proposal comes as only a few weeks are left before the 31 October Brexit deadline. Despite his determination to take the country out of the bloc, Parliament has obliged him to seek an extension if no withdrawal agreement is secured by 19 October.


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    European Union, Leo Varadkar, Boris Johnson, goods, customs, backstop solution, FTA, Brexit
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