Prospects of a deal 'growing' as fears of 'crash-out' diminish
Prospects of an EU-UK Brexit deal have grown in recent weeks, Irish EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has said.
In his most upbeat assessment of negotiations scheduled to conclude at a leaders' summit on October 19, Mr Hogan said real fears that the UK would "crash out" without a deal, causing economic carnage, had receded.
"Only massive mismanagement can turn the fear of a crash-out into a fact," he said.
"The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, opposes it and says so at every opportunity.
"A deal is coming into shape. It is still true that no Brexit deal will be as good for everyone as UK membership has been. But given all the circumstances, red lines and so on, what is emerging is, I think, reasonable."
The EU Agriculture Commissioner said it was interesting that even extreme Brexit advocates, including Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg, were against a no-deal crash-out and now favour an agreement similar to that between the EU and Canada.
"After months in which they seemed to be praying for a crash-out, we have the first signs that their boat is beginning to leak. They must be beginning to look at one another wondering who will be the first to jump ship," Mr Hogan added.
The commissioner said negotiations on the future of the Irish border had "gone from hot-headed to hard-headed" and that the best outcome for Ireland - for the North to remain inside the EU single market - was ruled out by emotional stances.
But both sides were now looking pragmatically for practical solutions. People had climbed down from their "hobby horses" and were moving in the same direction.
"We have moved past symbols into the field of bureaucracy. This gives us a good chance of finding the answer," the commissioner said.
Mr Hogan said that if Mrs May could enhance the detail of her Chequers proposals, there was a chance the EU could respond generously.
That would be the basis of a deal which had looked unlikely up until recent weeks.