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Why Irish border deal is crucial to Brexit

Why Irish border deal is crucial to Brexit

It comes after fevered speculation that Northern Ireland could remain in the single market to solve the border issue with the Republic - a prospect strongly resisted by the DUP who said they would not accept any separation with the rest of the UK.

It is understood this is a sticking point in reaching a deal on post-Brexit citizens' rights, the part of the phase one divorce negotiations that had previously been considered to be the most advanced.

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

The DUP say they never assented to any of the wording which leaked out of the Brexit discussions, whether it be "no regulatory divergence" across the island of Ireland after Brexit or "continued regulatory alignment".

"I am surprised and disappointed that the British government now appears not to be in a position to conclude what was agreed earlier today", Varadkar said at a press conference in Dublin.

Ireland and the other European Union members are demanding the United Kingdom provide details of how customs checkpoints and other border obstacles can be avoided before negotiations can move on to their next phase of discussing post-Brexit relations like trade.

Mrs May hopes to achieve a breakthrough during her visit to Brussels to meet Mr Juncker and European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.

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Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker were forced to admit it was not possible to strike a Brexit deal on Monday after a frantic day of negotiations came to a halt because Northern Ireland's DUP had not yet been signed up. "But at this stage it is very hard to make a prediction", said an official.

Juncker described May as a "tough negotiator", and insisted that talks had not failed.

"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.

London has broadly agreed to numerous EU's divorce terms, including paying out something like 50 billion euros. But the border issue has proved more intractable. But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland.

Varadkar said he would speak in public shortly.

The EU has demanded "sufficient progress" on key withdrawal issues - the UK's exit payment, citizens' rights and Irish border - before the second phase can start.


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