No Ir­ish bor­der deal but talks con­tinue into night

‘Dis­cus­sions on­go­ing’ in search for so­lu­tion to suit DUP and Dublin

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY ARJ SINGH

Theresa May was late last night en­gaged in a flurry of diplo­macy, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion that a Brexit agree­ment on maintaining a soft Ir­ish bor­der could be edg­ing closer.

The an­nounce­ment that Euro­pean Coun­cil pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk will make a state­ment on Brexit early to­day added to talk that the prime min­is­ter had made progress.

In the evening Mrs May spoke to Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent Jean Claude Juncker, af­ter he had phoned Ir­ish PM Leo Varad­kar.

Mr Juncker’s chief spokesman Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas said af­ter the calls that an early morn­ing meet­ing and “press point” was “pos­si­ble”, but added: “We are mak­ing progress but not yet fully there. Talks are con­tin­u­ing through­out the night.”

A Num­ber 10 spokesman also con­firmed the calls, adding: “Dis­cus­sions about tak­ing for­ward the Brexit process are on­go­ing.”

A UK source said: “We’re not there yet.”

Un­der-pres­sure Mrs May had been hop­ing to make a new of­fer by to­day on the Ir­ish bor­der to sat­isfy both Dublin and North­ern Ire­land’s Demo­cratic Union­ist Party, which props up her gov­ern­ment. A mooted agree­ment be­tween the UK and EU on di­vorce is­sues in­clud­ing the Ir­ish bor­der, which would al­low talks to progress to the fu­ture trade relationship, was tor­pe­doed on Mon­day by the DUP.

The party ob­jected to plans for “reg­u­la­tory align­ment” be­tween North­ern Ire­land and the Repub­lic to main­tain a soft bor­der be­tween the two, ar­gu­ing it would amount to the draw­ing of a new fron­tier with the UK main­land in the Ir­ish Sea. The prime min­is­ter is un­der in­tense pres­sure to get lead­ers at the De­cem­ber 14 Euro­pean Coun­cil sum­mit to de­clare “suf­fi­cient progress” has been made on di­vorce is­sues so trade talks can be­gin.

DUP chief whip Sir Jef­frey Don­ald­son said: “Dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing.”

Ear­lier, Ire­land’s deputy pre­mier Si­mon Coveney said the Dublin gov­ern­ment would con­sider al­ter­na­tive pro­pos­als from Lon­don but stressed it would not coun­te­nance any­thing that fell short of the as­sur­ances it needs over the shape of the bor­der post Brexit.

Ge­orge Os­borne

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.