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EU Council President Donald Tusk. Photo: Yiannis Kourtoglou/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday that there have been "promising signals" in Brexit talks between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, adding that both have seen "for the first time ... a pathway to a deal."

The big picture: The major sticking point in the negotiations continues to be the Irish backstop, deciding precisely which regulatory and customs system Northern Ireland, which is a part of the U.K., will be aligned with after Brexit — and for how long — and how that will affect its border with Ireland.

  • Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, also said Friday that he had a "constructive meeting" with the U.K.'s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, continuing the positive language from Europe, per AP.

Yes, but: The U.K. is set to exit the EU on Oct. 31, so any hope for a deal is getting close to the wire. Johnson has promised to exit the EU "do or die" at the end of the month, indicating that he'd be willing to stomach the expected economic shock of a no-deal Brexit.

  • Tusk acknowledged the time crunch in his remarks, saying, "Of course, there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up — but even the slightest chance must be used. A no-deal Brexit will never be the choice of the EU."

The bottom line: There have been positive signals from both sides before as the U.K. approached its previously planned exit dates under former Prime Minister Theresa May. She was able to produce a fully negotiated withdrawal agreement that took months to hammer out — and it was soundly rejected on multiple occasions by Parliament.

  • "So, in summary, there's a narrow pathway to a landing zone, which could give access to a tunnel, which would pass under a summit, but perhaps reach sunlit uplands rather than the last ditch before the cliff edge," astutely tweets the AFP's Dave Clark.

Go deeper: Northern Ireland's Brexit balancing act

Go deeper

41 mins ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."

Democrats stiff Biden as poll numbers hit low point

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Democrats in swing states and vulnerable districts in this year's pivotal midterms are distancing themselves from President Biden on social media as his poll numbers hit their lowest point.

Why it matters: The digital distance is one sign of the concern candidates feel about a person they'd normally embrace. Incumbent presidents — including one who believes he needs to come to their hometowns to sell his message — would normally be political gold for candidates from the same party.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.