EU27 leaders consider softening governance proposals in Irish backstop draft

In an interview with the Sunday Times, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox put the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal at “60-40,” adding, “I think the intransigence of the [European] Commission is pushing us towards no deal…We have set out the basis in which a deal can ­happen but if the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the ­people of Europe then it’s a bureaucrats’ Brexit — not a ­people’s Brexit — [and] then there is only going to be one outcome.” Fox explained, “If they don’t like the one [deal] we have put on the table then it’s down to them to show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us.”

The Guardian reports that Whitehall officials believe that there is little chance of the UK leaving without a deal, but that it is still important to step up preparations for a no-deal scenario. A government source is quoted saying, “We’ve been telling business for two years that no deal isn’t going to happen, and we still believe that it’s a very small chance, but it’s not a 0% chance so government has got to prepare. There is an awakening in Europe of the damage to them of no deal and that most member states have no plans for it, so it is rising up their agenda.”

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Theresa May held talks about Brexit with French President Emmanuel Macron last week, however no joint statement was issued after the meeting.

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, May is planning a Cabinet meeting in early September to discuss preparations for the possibility of leaving without a deal. This comes as a new poll by the ORB International Pollster suggests that public approval of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit negotiations has fallen to 22 percent.  The poll also suggests that the share of voters who doubt that May will get the right Brexit deal has risen to 60 percent, with 22 percent believing she will.

Separately, Bloomberg reports that the UK Government aims to agree a Brexit deal by late November, citing an unnamed source claiming that May’s team assumes the EU will be under pressure to present a united front to US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit on 30 November.

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