May travels to Brussels without Ireland deal

Dec 05, 2017, 01:59
May travels to Brussels without Ireland deal

All parties initially appeared to be confident that there was an agreement to be had on citizens rights, the financial settlement and the increasingly thorny issue of the Irish border, but the bullish talk came to nothing.

At around midday, the pound hit a day's high of 1.3523 against the dollar after news emerged that Westminster will concede on European Union trade rules for Northern Ireland.

Arrangements which would effectively allow Northern Ireland to remain part of the European single union would prevent the return of a "hard border" between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

But the DUP pulled the plug as it raised fears that the United Kingdom was making too many concessions when it came to the Irish border.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels for a long negotiating lunch with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to speak later today about "phase one" of the Brexit talks.

A deal on that thorny issue had been widely touted Monday morning but failed to materialise amid angry reactions from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the staunchly pro-British group that helps May's minority government pass legislation in Westminster.

David McAllister, a vice-president of the European People's Party - the European Parliament's largest grouping - said it was "difficult to predict" whether EU leaders will sanction the start of second phase Brexit talks this month, also classing the prospects of progress at "50/50".

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"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.

"Despite our best efforts and the significant process we and our teams have made over the past days on the remaining withdrawal issues, it was not possible to reach an agreement", EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

Mr Juncker insisted that a deal could still be reached this week, having described Mrs May as a "tough negotiator".

"We can not align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union", he said. "We have common understanding on most issues". "Getting closer to sufficient progress at December (EU summit)".

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"And the problem between the Republic and Northern Ireland is a effect of the British decision not only to leave the EU but also the single market and the customs union".

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