Brexit border agreement reached between Ireland and UK

Lucy Bush
December 5, 2017

It appeared that the DUP's refusal to accept compromise language on the future of Irish border, under which the United Kingdom would commit to "continued regulatory alignment" to ensure a hard border would not return, was a hurdle too far. "It was reported as if it was true, and now it turns out it was propaganda from the Irish Government", he said.

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.

An EU official, who will be consulted by Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker ahead of Monday's lunch with the Prime Minister, added "it was more likely than unlikely" that an agreement on withdrawal issues will be reached.

May and Juncker made no comment to reporters when they met at the European Union executive's Berlaymont headquarters for a lunch that diplomats and officials hope can seal a breakthrough that would open the way to negotiations on future trade relations.

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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".

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 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.

The UK however said it would not create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

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The DUP has only 10 seats out of 650 in Britain's House of Commons, but without their support May's government would fall.

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

Varadkar said he was "surprised and disappointed that the British government now appears not to be in a position to conclude what was agreed earlier today".

A decision on any new deals with Britain would have to be reached by the fall of next year to give individual member states enough time to approve all the measures in their parliaments before the final date on March 2019. "If no clear commitment is made, the EPP group will not be ready to assess the progress made as sufficient to enter a 2nd phase of negotiations", Manfred Weber, German MEP and leader of the largest group, the European People's Party in the EP, tweeted.

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