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Why Irish border deal is crucial to Brexit

Why Irish border deal is crucial to Brexit

There has been "some progress" towards a Brexit agreement on the Irish border but it remains "50/50" whether a deal will be reached, Sky News understands.

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.

Irish state broadcaster RTE said that a draft text would commit Britain to "continued regulatory alignment" with the European Union to avoid divergence on the two sides of the Irish border.

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.

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.

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.

"It was not possible to reach complete agreement today", he said. "It was reported as if it was true, and now it turns out it was propaganda from the Irish Government", he said. "Getting closer to sufficient progress at December (EU summit)".




But some doubts are emerging, according to a source present at the discussions, specifically about the status of family members of European Union citizens living in Britain.

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".

Ireland's deputy premier and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said the Dublin government's concerns over the post-Brexit border were set to be addressed fully.

"Hopefully we'll find a way forward today", Coveney told Irish state broadcaster RTE.

"Obviously, we would like that to be the case".

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.

Donald Tusk, the EU summit chair, tweeted ebulliently after speaking to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that there was progress on the Irish issue to unblock UK-EU trade talks: "Tell me why I like Mondays!" the former Polish premier wrote.

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