Published: Sun, October 21, 2018

Irish border issue could sink Brexit deal, says Barnier

Irish border issue could sink Brexit deal, says Barnier

His criticism was also echoed by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who said "to use the prospect of violence and terrorism is a disgraceful and unsafe gamble".

"Certainly it's something that's in the back of my mind as a potential outcome if we get this wrong", he said. It will only be triggered if both sides do no reach a future trade deal.

The stunt was viewed with disgust by many in Northern Ireland, however, with some seeing it as a threat of sorts - particularly given insider claims that elements of the political elite and security establishment in the Republic of Ireland colluded with the IRA when they were at their most active.

European Union leaders warned Britain on Thursday they would offer no more concessions to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations, but expressed confidence that a deal can be done before the country leaves the bloc next March.

"The mood was good, we are cordial and respect each other and Theresa May is a formidable politician", Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters after the dinner.

The German chancellor and French president chatted and shook hands with tourists and locals on the picturesque Grand Place with their local host, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and his Luxembourg neighbour Xavier Bettel, who said he bought the drinks to celebrate his re-election as premier on Sunday.

Despite optimistic comments from senior EU figures about the prospect of progress at the October 17-18 European Council summit, the PM made clear that agreement has not yet been reached on key issues including the Irish border.

British and European Union leaders are expected to continue discussions to advance further in talks to avoid a no-deal scenario.

On Thursday the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), that is in coalition with May's Conservative Party, threatened to remove their support for the government over Brexit if an open-ended backstop in Northern Ireland - an insurance plan to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland - is to be agreed.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mrs May said an extension to the transition period "could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland".

According to Hunt, "all but one or two issues" on Brexit have been settled in exit talks. And he added "this prolongation of the transition period probably will happen". "It is not the best idea the two of us had but it is giving us some room to prepare the future relationship in the best way possible". Disagreement over the backstop has brought divorce negotiations to a standstill.

The EU suggests that Northern Ireland stay aligned to its single market and customs union until a new trade deal is agreed, but London says this would damage the integrity of the UK. What's even worse is she is now going to put us in a position that, six years after voting to leave the European Union, we will still be in the EU.

"We now need to do the same behind Theresa May to maximise her negotiating leverage in Brussels and make sure she does come back with that deal that honours the letter and spirit of the referendum decision".

"We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

AREAS OF COMPROMISE? May said the bloc has "responded positively" to Britain's backstop proposal, but has insisted it have an end date - something her ministers and the DUP have rejected.

Merkel said: "Where there's a will, there should be a way".

"An extended transition period means the United Kingdom continues to "pay but have no say" in Brussels". This is just one of many huge risks May will have to take in the coming weeks.

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