THERESA MAY’S CHANCES OF STRIKING IRISH BORDER DEAL ’50-50′, SAY EU OFFICIALS

The chances of Theresa May striking a deal with Brussels on the Irish border that she can sell to the cabinet and parliament are said by EU officials to be “50-50” as the fraught talks enter their final stretch. The British negotiating team and the European commission’s taskforce, led by Michel Barnier, are to enter a secretive phase known as the “tunnel” this week, but senior EU figures involved in the talks warned the competing redlines remain “incompatible” in key areas. The British government has set out its stall to make “decisive progress” on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop by Friday, in the hope that Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, could then call an extraordinary Brexit summit for the end of the month to seal the deal. – Guardian

THE PM HIT THE PHONE TO REASSURE CABINET BREXITEERS

Theresa May spent yesterday telephoning key cabinet ministers as Downing Street sought to calm fears that she was about to dash to the finishing line of Brexit talks. The prime minister spoke to Leave-supporting colleagues after reports that an agreement was far closer than had been acknowledged. Some fear that she is about to trigger a deal-making summit with the EU later this month without securing political agreement for the final negotiation. She will meet President Macron for Armistice Day commemorations on Friday with the fate of the negotiations in the balance. Beforehand the prime minister will update the cabinet on the state of talks but allies insisted that she would not present ministers with a draft deal already agreed in outline. She is understood to have stressed that reports to the contrary were wide of the mark, both in a conference call and in one-to-one conversations. – The Times (£)

skynews-boris-johnson-conservative-conference_4440628BORIS JOHNSON URGES MINISTERS TO THROW OUT THERESA MAY’S ‘APPALLING’ BREXIT PROPOSALS BEFORE CABINET SHOWDOWN

Boris Johnson issued a clarion call to ministers to turn their back on Theresa May’s “appalling” Brexit proposals – one day before she faces a crunch Cabinet showdown. The Leave campaigner’s powerful intervention came as it was rumoured the PM had made a “secret Brexit deal” that would see the whole of Britain locked in a customs union to avoid a controversial hard border in Northern Ireland. Boris slammed the plans as a “Christmas present of the finest old Brussels fudge”. He blasted: “Even after we leave – according to this so called deal – we will remain in a nonsensical “implementation period” in which we will be effectively non-voting members of the EU. – The Sun

ARRON BANKS CHALLENGED OVER LEAVE.EU FUNDS

Businessman Arron Banks has been challenged to explain where the money for his Brexit campaign came from. Mr Banks is the subject of a police probe into claims he was not the “true source” of £8m loaned to his Leave.EU campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. The Electoral Commission referred the case to the National Crime Agency, which said potential criminal offences may have been committed. Mr Banks told the BBC’s Andrew Marr the money came from his UK businesses. – BBC News

BORIS JOHNSON: £40BILLION BREXIT DIVORCE BILL MEANS WE’LL EFFECTIVELY BECOME A NON-VOTING EU COLONY

It’s a deal! That’s the word from the Brexit talks. If yesterday’s papers are right the UK government will soon be rewarded with a Christmas present of the finest old Brussels fudge. If this is indeed the deal that is to be placed before Cabinet on Tuesday, it is an absolute stinker. It means we are proposing to hand over an amazing £40billion for absolutely nothing in return. Even after we leave – according to this so called deal – we will remain in a nonsensical “implementation period” in which we will be effectively non-voting members of the EU. – Boris Johnson MP for The Sun

FAISAL ISLAM: PM NEEDS THE BREXIT EQUIVALENT OF A JEDI MIND TRICK

To get a deal through parliament the PM and her whips will essentially have to persuade two diametrically opposed cross-party groups of MPs that a vote against her deal will deliver both “no-deal Brexit” and at the same time “no Brexit at all”. Remainer rebels will be told and have been told that voting down the deal will lead to the chaos of no-deal across the economy, with implications for car factories, supermarkets and in the Channel. Conversely, Brexiteer rebels will be told, and have been told by the PM herself, that voting down her deal could lead to “no Brexit at all”. Both cannot be true. – Faisal Islam for Sky News

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