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Cautiously optimistic on Brexit deal, says PM Boris Johnson ahead of EU meeting

File photo of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team London, England Sep 13, 2019, 06.28 PM (IST)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the possibility of a Brexit deal, noting a "good deal of progress" in talks with Brussels.

"There is the rough shape of a deal to be done... I am cautiously optimistic," Johnson said, speaking during a visit to Rotherham in northern England.

The latest comments came ahead of the scheduled meeting between Johnson and European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg on Monday as he bids to broker a Brexit compromise ahead of the October 31 deadline.

Johnson will "hold talks with President Juncker on Brexit," his Downing Street office had said without providing further details.

Meanwhile, the British pound gained one per cent against the dollar on Friday trading on speculation that the two sides were edging closer to a compromise over the contentious Irish border issue.

Watch: Both houses of UK parliament passed a law to stop 'No Deal Brexit' on 31st October

However later in the day, the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar cautioned that the gap between London and Brussels on reaching a Brexit deal was still "very wide".

"We are exploring what is possible," Varadkar said adding, "The gap is very wide but we will fight for and work for" a deal, local media reported.

Johnson took office in July promising to implement the 2016 referendum decision by leaving the EU on October 31, even without a deal.

However, he lost his parliamentary majority last week after a series of defections and expulsions from his governing Conservative Party amid opposition to his strident Brexit stance.

The British leader wants to renegotiate the divorce terms struck by his predecessor Theresa May, which MPs have repeatedly rejected.

In particular, he wants to change the so-called backstop provisions, which concern ways to keep the Northern Irish border with the Republic of Ireland open in all scenarios. European leaders have accused the British prime minister offering no viable alternatives.

(With inputs from agencies)

Story highlights

'There is the rough shape of a deal to be done... I am cautiously optimistic,' Johnson said, speaking during a visit to Rotherham in northern England.