World News

Brexit Irish border deal possible within hours

Brexit Irish border deal possible within hours

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar on Wednesday spoke on the telephone regarding the Brexit border deal in Ireland, May's office said in a statement here.

It had been intended that the meeting of the European Council on December 14th and 15th would see EU leaders decide if "sufficient progress" has been made in the three key areas of the so-called divorce settlement, citizens' rights and Irish specific issues to allow the talks proceed to the next phase.

The agreement paves the way for European Union leaders at a summit on December 14-15 to open the second phase of Brexit negotiations, covering trade talks and a transition period.

Negotiators worked through the night to seal an agreement on the terms of Britain's departure from the bloc.

The DUP scuppered this deal on the basis that it would move Northern Ireland closer to the Republic in economic terms.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has cautioned that the talks on the United Kingdom leaving the bloc will not shift to the next stage if London fails to arrive at a consensus on a text about the relevant deal in the next 48 hours.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds are seen after Arlene Fosters speech at her party's annual conference in Belfast Northern Ireland
REUTERS Andrew Paton Brexit Deal Drama'DUP Enjoy Holding Knife to May's Throat But'Fear Corbyn Gov't

The European Commission said yesterday that there was still "no white smoke" on a Brexit deal and set a limit of Sunday for British Prime Minister Theresa May to return to Brussels with an acceptable deal.

However, the Democratic Unionist Party signalled that it believed a deal was still some way off - with Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, yet to have face-to-face talks with Ms May.

After talks in Dublin, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dutch PM Mark Rutte made clear the European Union would not compromise and allow the Irish border to be kicked down the road to phase two of the talks, even under threat of Britain crashing out with no deal or divorce negotiations dragging on to 2018.

"We are making progress but not yet fully there", Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

The Government continues to insist it will not change the substance of what it says was agreed with the British government on Brexit earlier this week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said "the real lesson" of the past week was that Scotland "will always be at the mercy of reckless decisions taken by Tory governments at Westminster" unless it becomes independent. "I don't think that's how it's going to work", he told a European Parliament committee.

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