Brussels: Brexit talks are progressing with “momentum”, the British minister in charge of negotiating the divorce said Friday after meeting his EU counterpart, despite warnings from Europe that a deal is still some way off. After talks in Brussels with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay said there was a “shared sense of purpose” to reach agreement and avoid Britain crashing out of the bloc without a divorce deal. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportBritain is racing toward its October 31 departure without an exit agreement and faces the threat of economic disruption that the government admits could cause food shortages and spark civil unrest. Barclay and Barnier discussed three papers submitted by London with ideas on replacing the so-called “Irish backstop” provisions in the Brexit deal struck last year but rejected by British lawmakers. “There is significant work still to do but there are serious discussions that are taking place,” Barclay said after the talks. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests”We are moving forward with momentum, talks will continue next week between the technical teams.” But the European Commission, which leads Brexit talks for the remaining 27 member states, gave a more sober assessment, stressing that the British papers amounted to no more than “a first set of concepts, principles and ideas”. And there was further pessimism from Dublin, with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney telling BBC radio that while the “mood music” around talks had improved, a deal was still “not close” and British proposals so far were inadequate. “What we are being asked to do by Steve Barclay and by others is to replace a guarantee around that border question… with a promise that somehow we’ll do our best to try to solve this issue in the future but we don’t know how just yet,” he said. “That doesn’t sound like a fair deal to me.”
New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy on Friday failed to appear before CBI officials in Kolkata in connection with the Narada tapes corruption case, officials here said.However, sources in the know said that Roy cited personal preoccupations and asked to appear another day for questioning in the case, to which he has been asked to appear before agency officials on Saturday afternoon. Roy’s summons in the Narada case came on the day the agency made its first arrest, taking senior IPS officer SMH Meerza into custody. According to sources in the know, Meerza was not cooperating with the agency and not deliberately not divulging details he is aware of. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghThey added that Meerza was unable to explain expecting a wad of cash from sting operator Mathew Samuel. The case came to light after covertly recorded videos of several senior ruling party leader in West Bengal was released before the 2016 Assembly polls in the state. The videos purportedly showed the leaders accepting cash from Samuel, the Editor of Narada News, where the footage was first released, in exchange for extending favours to his fictitious company. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadAccording to the CBI’s preliminary enquiry, the videos show Roy asking Samuel to hand over cash meant for himself to Meerza and even shows him to say that he would not be accepting it himself. Shortly, another clip shows Meerza accepting a wad of Rs 5 lakh in cash. The CBI’s probe into Roy had interestingly died down after he joined the BJP within four months of the FIR being registered. In fact, the agency also sought prosecution sanction for four other accused in the case but not Roy.