Brexit Irish border deal possible within hours

Brexit Irish border deal possible within hours
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

BRUSSELS/DUBLIN (Reuters) - The United Kingdom and Ireland could reach agreement in hours on how to run their post-Brexit Irish land border, paving the way for a deal that would remove the last obstacle to opening free-trade talks with the European Union.

A carefully choreographed attempt to showcase the progress of Brexit talks collapsed at the last minute on Dec. 4 when the Northern Irish party which props up Prime Minister Theresa Mays government vetoed a draft deal already agreed with Ireland.

Since then, May has been scrambling to clinch a deal on the new UK-EU land border in Ireland that is acceptable to the European Union, Dublin, her own lawmakers and Northern Irelands Democratic Unionist Party, which keeps her government in power.

May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker could meet early on Friday to seal a border deal, the European Commissions chief spokesman said.

We are making progress but not yet fully there, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said. Talks are continuing throughout the night. Early morning meeting possible.

A spokesman for PM May said Brexit discussions were ongoing while a senior Irish official said talks were moving swiftly and that a deal was possible in hours.

It is moving quite quickly at the moment, the Irish official told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce event in Brussels. I think we are going to work over the next couple of hours with the UK government to close this off. I say hours because I think we are very close.

Later on Thursday, the political editor of the BBC said the leadership of the DUP in Belfast had not signed off on the border deal, meaning it could yet stumble, but May continued to plan to meet Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk early on Friday in Brussels to finalize the agreement.

The political editor of Sky News, quoting a DUP source, said the party would continue to work on the border issue on Friday.

Moving to talks about trade and a Brexit transition are crucial for the future of Mays premiership, and to keep trade flowing between the worlds biggest trading bloc and its sixth largest national economy after Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.



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