By Sam Blewett, Gavin Cordon and Sophie Wingate, PA Political Staff
The EU and UK appeared to inch closer to a deal over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol after “productive” talks were held during an “intensive” phase of negotiations.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he had a productive call with British foreign minister James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris. He said they had agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting in the coming days.
Downing Street earlier insisted a “final deal” had not been struck as they seek an agreement that will satisfy the demands of the DUP.
A productive video call with @JamesCleverly and @chhcalling, taking stock of our work to find joint solutions to everyday concerns in Northern Ireland. Our 🔝 priority is to succeed for the benefit of all communities.
Hard work continues. We've agreed to meet later this week.
— Maroš Šefčovič🇪🇺 (@MarosSefcovic) February 20, 2023
However, No 10 would not commit to giving MPs a vote on any potential deal as senior Tory Brexiteers stepped up warnings to British prime minister Rishi Sunak not to give too much ground to the EU.
Mr Cleverly welcomed Monday’s talks with the European Commission vice-president and tweeted: “Intensive work continues and we agreed to talk again in the coming days.”
Mr Sefcovic described their video call as a “productive” attempt to find joint solutions.
“Hard work continues. We’ve agreed to meet later this week,” he tweeted.
Sources in Brussels said a location for their meeting had not been set, but welcomed it as a positive step in efforts to get a deal.