The European Union has given permission for its chief negotiator to hold a last-gasp round of “intense and secret” negotiations with Britain in a bid to secure a deal before the Halloween Brexit deadline, reports say. The prospects of a deal had appeared dead since Boris Johnson took over as prime minister in July, but an unexpectedly positive meeting with Irish prime minister Leo Vradkar has given a glimmer of hope. “It’s a tunnel with a very small light at the end of it,” one diplomat told Reuters. Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has reportedly put the fresh optimism down to Britain being “more open” to address Irish worries over border arrangements with Britain in Northern Ireland. “There is movement on the U.K. side on both customs and consent that bode well for chances for progress,” said one diplomat. A European leaders' summit next week is seen as the last chance to agree a deal before the October 31 deadline.