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EU says much still to be done before a Brexit deal as UK settled status applications spike

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EU says much still to be done before a Brexit deal as UK settled status applications spike
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The European Union has cautioned that 'a lot of work' remains if there is to be any Brexit deal by the October 31 deadline.

Expectations were raised following a positive meeting last week between the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

A flurry of top level meetings and negotiations on Brexit have continued throughout the weekend and are continuing today.

It coincides with a massive increase in EU citizens applying for settled status in the UK.

In terms of concluding a deal, Boris Johnson must find a formula regarding the Irish border that won’t contravene the terms of 1998’s Good Friday Agreement which sought to end violence between unionists and Irish republicans. Yet he must simultaneously satisfy the hardline Brexit self-styled ‘spartans’. He will then need the approval of the European Union before seeking the endorsement of the British parliament. Johnson’s Conservative Party has no majority in parliament; he also unlawfully suspended it last month.

Euronews Correspondent Jack Parrock told Good Morning Europe that the UK Prime Minister was moving into what is, for him, new territory:

“The understanding is what’s being worked on is the idea of Northern Ireland remaining in a Customs Union with the United Kingdom, but it would enforce EU customs rules, preventing the need for customs checks on the border.

"Nobody is very clear yet on how that would work, but that’s the understanding of what the talks are considering at the moment.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with a change of tone about the UK in her press conference (on Sunday), talking about the UK as a competitor, suggesting the UK’s position may be very different to what the EU had when it negotiated Theresa May’s initial agreement."

From London, Euronews Correspondent Vincent McAviney said there appeared to be some shift in Boris Johnson’s position:

“He’s looking at proposals which he quit the government over last year; the problem is he doesn’t have a working majority and his backbenchers including the European Research Group are very difficult to bring along on this; three times they voted down Theresa May’s plan. They will only go along with a plan if the Democratic Unionist Party do, because they want to protect the union.

"Jacob Rees Mogg has suggested he can bring these people along if it’s a choice between this and no Brexit at all if there’s a General Election and they don’t do well."

The Queen’s Speech – setting out the new legislative agenda of the government will also be delivered by today, but Maddy Thimon Jack, Senior Brexit Researcher at the Institute of Government think tank told Euronews that it’s being delivered in an unprecedented situation:

“It could end up in a very strange scenario where the government can’t pass its Queen’s Speech, can’t get a majority in favour of what it wants to do with the parliamentary session, but they still can’t get the numbers for a general election.

“And at that stage, that would be something that’s never really happened before; it’s unclear what will happen next.”

The ongoing uncertainty over Brexit has coincided with a spike in applications for UK Settled Status from EU citizens, with more than half a million received in September alone.

EU citizens and their families actually have until 31 December 2020 to apply even if the UK crashes out of the EU without deal.

The highest number of applications are from Polish, Romanian and Italian citizens, with more than 345,000 Polish citizens applying.

With an estimated 1 million Polish people in the UK, this raises questions about the large number of Poles who have not yet applied.