European Union piles pressure on United Kingdom over Irish border plan

Pound to euro exchange rate Sterling drops

We have to work on drafting an operational backstop, and for that I've asked Dominic and his team to give us a certain amount of data which is necessary for the technical work which we need now on the nature, the place, where and how the necesseary controls and checks take place.

The EU's chief negotiator, who has been strident on the issue during the behind-the-scenes negotiations, made public his request for the information as he warned he needed an agreement on Northern Ireland and other outstanding withdrawal issues "by November at the latest".

The European Union's Michel Barnier says it's "possible" to get an agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the EU in time for a summit of the bloc's leaders in Brussels from October 18 to 19, but added that a delay into November was also possible.

For sterling bears finding it increasingly expensive to fund these short bets, some traders said Barnier's comments - indicating a slightly more conciliatory tone rather than a major shift in negotiating stance - were the final straw.

Standing alongside Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, he said: "Week after week and step by step we are eliminating subjects, bones of contention..."

"We must have a detailed backstop solution which is legally binding in the Withdrawal Agreement", Mr Barnier said.

"It's a matter of some urgency".

The biggest problem in the talks continues to be avoiding a hard border between the United Kingdom and Ireland after the divorce.

The UK Government insists that any backstop position should include the UK as a whole.

With seven months to go until Britain leaves, its government has been ramping up its no-deal preparations, and negotiators on both sides increasingly expect an informal October deadline for reaching an agreement to slip into November.

That goes specifically for the sensitive issue of the EU-U.K. land border between Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, where the European Union wants a "backstop" solution in case of no deal, which includes terms that are anathema to London.

Barnier said unresolved issues included geographical indications, the role of the EU's top court in policing the agreement and data protection, among others.

Today's remarks by Mr Barnier indicate that the European Union is determined that such a scenario is prepared for.

Raab said that "on my side, I am stubbornly optimistic that a deal is within our reach".

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