Ireland 'disappointed' by British U-turn on Brexit deal: PM

Violet Powell
December 5, 2017

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

"Crucially it is clear that we want to move forward together, but on a couple of issues, differences do remain, which require further negotiation and consultation", said May before heading to meet President of the European Council Donald Tusk nearly one-hour late than scheduled.

The Prime Minister was within touching distance on Monday of a reaching an agreement with the EU's Brexit taskforce on the so-called "divorce issues" after a frantic day of negotiations in Brussels.

European Union leaders want a deal on the breakup terms in time for them to agree at the December 14-15 summit whether to move the negotiations on to the next stage of talks, including trade.

The UK government has repeatedly insisted many of these questions can not be answered until the next stage of Brexit talks - on a transition period and a future EU-UK trading and customs relationship - is allowed to begin.

British negotiators were reported to have agreed outline rules with Ireland for their border after Brexit on Monday, sending the pound higher on hopes of a deal on European Union free trade as Prime Minister Theresa May arrived for crunch talks in Brussels.

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

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"This is not a failure", Juncker added after a long negotiating lunch with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"I hope we are in a place this evening where Irish people north and south will get reassurance from the wording that is very close to being finalised now".

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.

"We now have a common understanding on most related issues with just two or three open for discussion".

If a Brexit deal can be done that "effectively" keeps Northern Ireland in the single European market, there is "surely no good practical reason" why Scotland should not benefit from such an arrangement, the First Minister has said.

The Prime Minister is reliant on any support from the party as the DUP is propping up her government with its 10 MPs. The pro-British Unionist party opposes any special status that could take Northern Ireland further from Britain and closer to the Republic of Ireland.

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