Brexit negotiators to step up tempo on new deal talks

London, Aug 30 (IANS) The UK's Brexit negotiators will now meet their European Union (EU) counterparts twice a week next month, in the run up to a crucial summit on October 17-18, a media report said on Friday.

This development comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's promise of a renewed effort to secure a deal with the EU before the Brexit deadline of October 31, the BBC said in the report.

The EU has said that it expected the UK to come up with "concrete proposals".

A European Commission spokesperson on Thursday said that its "doors remain open" and insisted it had "demonstrated our willingness to work 24/7 throughout this long process".

In response, Johnson said that he had been "encouraged" by the response from EU leaders but said "it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo".

The Prime Minister also said that he had seen "a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop".

The backstop, which aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, is likely to be at the forefront of the twice weekly discussions between Brussels and Johnson's lead negotiator, David Frost.

The government reiterated that a new deal would not be agreed unless the withdrawal deal which was agreed between former Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU and repeatedly rejected by MPs, was reopened and the backstop taken out.

The Downing Street has said that the two sides "remain some distance apart on key issues" but added they were "willing to work hard to find a way through".

The UK is currently set to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

--IANS

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