Brexit deal in the balance as Boris Johnson faces crucial EU summit
Last-gasp Brexit talks continued into the first day of a crucial European Union summit, which starts today, as the UK government struggled to secure the support of its DUP allies and the last remaining holdouts on the Brexiteer wing of the Conservative Party.
In Brussels, negotiators were on the brink of signing off a new legal text for a Brexit agreement, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier briefing ambassadors from member states that compromise had been reached on all but one of the issues relating to the future of the Irish border.
But in London, Downing Street played down hopes that a deal would be done in time for today’s gathering of European leaders, who must sign off any agreement so it can be approved by MPs on Saturday and avoid a further delay to the UK’s departure. (Full story in the Scotsman)
Think tank warns Boris Johnson over denying Scotland indyref2
The Prime Minister cannot keep dismissing requests from the Scottish Government for a second independence referendum, according to a government think tank.
Leading experts who have calculated the process to hold a new vote could take place just 15 weeks after Westminster and Holyrood approve its terms.
The London-based Institute for Government said the UK should accept Scotland has the right to become independent if Scots vote for parties which support a fresh plebiscite. It added it would be “unsustainable” for a new vote to be denied under such circumstances. (Full story in The National)
DUP rejects Boris Johnson's Brexit plans 'as things stand'
Boris Johnson has been dealt a major blow shortly before the crunch EU summit after Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said she could not yet back his Brexit plans.
The Prime Minister is hoping to bring back a deal from the Brussels meeting of European leaders while winning the backing of the DUP, which also wields influence over some Tory Brexiteers.
But Ms Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, released a joint statement hours before the summit was due to begin on Thursday, highlighting three major obstacles. (Full story in the Scotsman)
Ruth Davidson and Tony Blair in secret talks about indyref2
Tony Blair and Ruth Davidson have had a secret meeting about the prospect of a second independence referendum.
The former Labour Prime Minister asked to meet Ms Davidson when he was in Edinburgh last week and spent around 45 minutes with her one-to-one. (Full story in the Herald)
On today's agenda:
- Backing a vote for second referendum on Brexit would be "pragmatic" and "sensible" for Labour, a shadow minister has said.
- Boris Johnson will aim to win support for his Brexit deal in time for the 31 October deadline at the EU summit.