Ahead of an upcoming summit, the EU and UK seem closer than ever to an agreement to a deal on Brexit as the clock ticks ever closer to a deadline. The EU expects a deal to be hammered out in time for a formal gathering on October 17.

Nobody, however, can predict if this seemingly triumphant moment for the EU-27 and Britain will end in success after another late-night deal breaker.

The two sides have never been closer to an agreement on Brexit the lead-up to a recent get-together in Austria, but what turned out was a disaster for British Prime Minister Theresa May. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte even admitted that somehow, “Salzburg ended up being an accident where both the EU and Theresa May, seemed to drift away (from each other) a little bit, and that is not okay”.

May rattled 

Since the UK brought forward its position on Britain’ future relations with the EU in July, nothing has gone as planned. May has been forced to accept the resignations of two key players in the negotiations, including Chief Brexit Minister David Davis, as well as her controversial Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The EU was not comfortable with May’s leadership after the so-called “Chequers Plan” for Brexit seemed to fail. Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempts to calm things down in Salzburg, May’s insistence that she stick to her “Chequers or nothing” line cost her the support of 10 EU Member States, according to an EU diplomat familiar with talks.

Dinner end game

The EU summit is scheduled to start on October 17, ahead of another potential all-nighter of tough negotiations.

What the EU is also aware of May’s problems back in Britain, she first needs to set her sights on Brussels in order to keep things together with the Conservatives and the parties in Northern Ireland, along with some Labour MPs as her government is in danger of a potential collapse.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, has said she could not accept a Brexit compromise that would include the EU’s backstop plan to keep the Irish border open after Brexit. This warning, ahead of an imminent agreement between the EU-UK sides, could be a locally induced disaster, as without a border agreement there is no divorce deal on the table.