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UK ends standoff with EU as hopes rise for Northern Ireland Brexit deal | Brexit

Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney is flying to London for talks with his UK counterpart James Cleverly as he hopes to secure a comprehensive deal to end the bitter row over Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements within weeks.

Talks at the official level will begin on Thursday afternoon via video link before a working dinner between the two foreign ministers.

“Both sides have agreed to attend this week for the first time since mid-February,” Coveney told reporters in Dublin.

“Mood music has changed quite thoroughly. We welcome this and work not only on relations to restore trust, but also on practical solutions,” he added.

In a second round of meetings on Friday, Coveney will meet Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker, who surprised many this week when he apologized to Ireland and the EU for the behavior of the Brexit camp. led during Theresa May’s regime.

In a clear sign of thawing EU-UK relations, Liz Truss will also attend the opening meeting of the European Political Union at the same time. It is a new body led by French President Emmanuel Macron that connects EU member states with other European countries. in countries that are not part of the bloc.

He is expected to meet both Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The talks come as Baker, the former leader of the Conservatives’ Eurosceptic wing, hit out at Lord Frost on Twitter over how the UK should behave.

Referring to Frost and a Northern Irish journalist’s plea to stick to the UK’s red lines, Baker tweeted:

“Neither of you seem to have bothered with my comments about determination. But the EU and the Irish have done it. And the red lines make no sense to discuss them publicly. To own none.

Neither of you seem to have bothered with my comments about determination. But the EU and the Irish have done it.

And the red lines make no sense to discuss them publicly. That none. 🙄

— Steve Baker MP FRSA 🗽 (@SteveBakerHW) October 5, 2022

Coveney and Cleverly are holding a working dinner in London as part of a bilateral meeting on Ukraine, the UN Security Council and Brexit.

They have already spoken twice by phone and met at a UN Security Council meeting in New York last month, but this is the first full bilateral meeting that shows the priority of the Northern Ireland issue.

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Sources say Truss has made it clear he “wants a deal” and wants to get the Northern Ireland issue off his mind so he can tackle the huge challenges he faces with the British economy, Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

Some hope a general agreement could be reached by October 28, the deadline for the Democratic Unionist Party to return to power-sharing in the Stormont assembly.

But earlier this week, Edwin Poots, who was briefly leader of the DUP last year, warned the political deadlock in Northern Ireland could spell “death” for the very peace deal that introduced power-sharing.

Many believe a deal can be struck to remove physical controls on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but the role of the European Court of Justice is difficult as it is a red line for both sides.

The DUP will hold its annual conference on Friday, where views are expected on the latest developments.