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Irish border deal reported settled as May meets Juncker

Irish border deal reported settled as May meets Juncker

Ireland, with the backing of the other 26 member states, wants the United Kingdom to provide guarantees on how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland - part of the United Kingdom - and the Republic of Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he was "surprised and disappointed" on Monday (Dec 4) after Britain appeared to pull back from a predicted deal with European Union leaders on the status of the Irish border after Brexit.

A meeting on this with all political party leaders is set for lunchtime today.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who held a mid-afternoon phone call with May, had earlier taken to the airwaves after reports emerged of an agreement that would give Northern Ireland a different regulatory status from the rest of Britain.

Despite intense discussions over the weekend over the border issue, Irish officials said on Sunday night that "there is still a way to go".

Those words were meant to provide reassurance to the Irish government that, should the European Union and the United Kingdom not be able to reach a trade deal, there would be a backstop that would guarantee trade across the border would continue pretty much as it does now.

May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker fell short of a breakthrough, despite some encouraging progress on the Irish border issue.

The border issue remained the main sticking point.




She said: "There are a couple of issues, some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation".

The British government says that when it leaves the EU in March 2019, it will also leave the single market and the customs union.

The EU and the United Kingdom are nearing agreement on some divorce terms, including the size of the bill that Britain must pay as it leaves and the rights of citizens affected by Brexit.

He added: "The indications we have is that we are in a much better place now than we have been in the negotiations to date".

The Prime Minister is reliant on any support from the party as the DUP is propping up her government with its 10 MPs.

"We can not align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union", he said.

But that task has been complicated by the DUP's show of strength, the publication of the sensitive wording from the draft negotiating text and Leo Varadkar's public insistence that the British government had signed up to a formula which the DUP found so hard to swallow.

"I still hope this matter can be concluded in the coming days", he said. "Getting closer to sufficient progress at December (EU summit)".

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