United Kingdom says still 'big issues' to resolve in Brexit talks
London: Britain said on Monday there were still "big issues" to resolve in Brexit negotiations with the EU, seeking to dampen growing talk of a breakthrough ahead of a crucial summit next week. "We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters. "There remain big issues to work through and as the prime minister has said, this will require movement on the EU side."
He said officials from both sides are holding technical discussions in Brussels this week, but Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is not currently planning to attend. "There is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal, and a deal including both the withdrawal agreement and the future framework actually being agreed," he said.
Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said on Sunday that the text of the withdrawal agreement was "90 percent agreed", although the Irish border issue remains a sticking point. "What is needed now is the two negotiating teams need to lock themselves in a room for the next 10 days or so," Coveney told Sky News. The final Brexit deal will include the withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on the future economic and security partnership.
The withdrawal agreement addresses the rights of EU expatriates and Britain's financial settlement, which are mostly agreed, and Ireland. London and Brussels have agreed to keep the border between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland open after Brexit, but disagree on how this can be achieved.
Britain believes frontie r checks can be avoided through a new trade deal with Brussels, but accepts the need for a fall-back plan to address the issue until that deal can be agreed. London has rejected the EU's proposal but has yet to put forward in full its own alternative, promising only it will be published "shortly". EU leaders have demanded concrete progress towards a deal by the October 18 summit in Brussels.