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U.K. and Ireland See ‘Pathway to a Possible Deal’: Brexit Update

Tim Ross and Robert Hutton

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Boris Johnson met his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar for crucial talks over lunch as the U.K. and European Union seek a way through the Brexit impasse with time running out to reach a deal. The two leaders said they could “see a pathway to a possible deal,” in a joint statement after the talks.

Key Developments:

Johnson and Varadkar held “constructive” talks in northwest EnglandThe pound rose as much as 0.7%U.K. Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay to meet EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on FridayTop medical officer says no-deal Brexit could cause deaths

Johnson and Varadkar See ‘Pathway’ to a Deal (3.15 p.m.)

Johnson and Varadkar have issued a joint statement at the end of what they called “constructive” talks. “Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest,” it read. “They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal. Their discussion concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent.”

After the talks, U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet EU negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow, and Varadkar will speak to the EU negotiating team, the statement said. Officials will “continue to engage intensively” with each other in the search for a deal, it said.

The statement suggests that while there was no breakthrough, both leaders see enough scope for continuing talks in search of an agreement.

Merkel Pledges to Minimize Harm of Brexit (1:30 p.m.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at a trade union event in Nuremberg, demanded that pensions and social insurance continue to be paid after Brexit -- and said visa-free travel should be maintained.

“We want to minimize the negative effects in both countries, even if there is a disorderly exit,” Merkel told a meeting of the IG Metall union. “Travel to the U.K. should remain possible without a visa, just as it is for Britons into the EU.”

“Those with social insurance should not lose their insurance in the event of an exit, or be involuntarily subject to double insurance,” she said. “Pensions also must be paid to the fullest extent, if the recipient is a resident of the U.K.”

Varadkar Promises ‘Detailed Discussion (1 p.m.)

Leo Varadkar tweeted after the start of the meeting in northwest England, saying he and Boris Johnson would have “detailed discussion to see if we can make any progress.”

Johnson and Varadkar Arrive for Crunch Meeting (12:15 p.m.)

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar arrived at the country house in North West England where they’re due to have lunch and hold their talks.

Thornton House was built in the 19th Century and now serves as a venue for weddings and corporate events. Johnson arrived about 20 minutes before Varadkar.

Minister: Stop Negotiating By Twitter (12 p.m.)

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said the U.K. government will focus until “the 11th hour on Oct. 31” on getting a deal. “It requires cool heads and real effort, real discipline, real focus,” he said in a Bloomberg interview.

“I’d like to see less of this emotional negotiation by Twitter,” he said. “That I think is unwise.”

His comments came after European Council President Donald Tusk, accused Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game” in a Twitter post earlier this week.

Deal ‘Not Impossible,’ Irish Minister Says (8.45 a.m.)

Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson will “check in” on where Brexit talks stand, Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said, adding that getting a deal is “extremely difficult but not impossible.”

Asked in an RTE radio interview if his government trusts Johnson, Harris responded that he is the elected prime minister and “we trust the U.K. political system in that regard.”

Earlier, U.K. Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said there’s still a “good chance” of a deal. The meeting between the two prime ministers “is not to have a social conversation,” he told BBC Radio. “They’re seriously focused on trying to resolve this issue and trying to get a deal.”

Hammond: Election Won’t Solve Impasse (8 a.m.)

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who was expelled from the Parliamentary Conservative Party for opposing Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy, warned that an election will not solve the impasse over leaving the EU.

“I don’t think an election solves our problem, I would not support an election at the moment,” Hammond told BBC Radio. “A few weeks ago we were being asked to give assurances that we wouldn’t vote against the Government in a vote of no confidence and now we’re being asked to vote to turn the Government out.”

He said both the economy and the reputation of the Conservative Party for fiscal prudence are being put at risk by spending commitments announced by his successor Sajid Javid.

“I do worry about a strategy which is reckless about our economic future in terms of advocating no-deal Brexit and reckless about our public finances in terms of spending money that, frankly, at this point in the Brexit negotiation, we cannot be sure we have available,” Hammond said.

Medical Officer Warns of No-Deal Deaths (7:30 a.m.)

Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, repeated her warning that there may be deaths caused by shortages of drugs and medical equipment if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

“The health service and everyone has worked very hard to prepare,” she told BBC Radio. “But I say what I’ve said before, that we cannot guarantee that there will not be shortages, not only in medicines but technology and gadgets and things,” she said. “And there may be deaths, we can’t guarantee there won’t.” The lives of patients “are at risk.”

Lewis Warns EU Citizens Over Registration (Earlier)

Security Minister Brandon Lewis warned EU citizens they must apply for settled status or risk being expelled from the U.K., the German newspaper Die Welt reported, citing an interview.

Only a third of Germans in the U.K. have so far applied to be registered and Lewis said “theoretically, yes,” when asked if they could be removed from the country if there’s a no-deal split from the bloc.

--With assistance from Peter Flanagan, Alex Morales, Thomas Penny, Patrick Donahue and Charlotte Ryan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Caroline Alexander

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