Irish PM 'surprised and disappointed' by no deal on Irish border

Irish PM 'surprised and disappointed' by no deal on Irish border

British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Irish government have failed to reach a deal on the crucial Brexit issue of the Northern Ireland border, authorities announced on Monday.

The question of how to maintain a soft Irish border had emerged as the key sticking point to getting agreement from the European Union to move on to phase two in the Brexit negotiations.

A meeting on this with all political party leaders is set for lunchtime today.

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The EU has had "enough time now to decide whether or not they are going to discuss trade with us, they need to get on with it and if they don't get on with it, the closer we get to walking away with no deal", she said.

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.

The failure to seal a deal threatens to delay the progression of the Brexit negotiations to the second phase covering trade and the UK's future relationship with the European Union (EU).

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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. "It was reported as if it was true, and now it turns out it was propaganda from the Irish Government", he said.

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. But Ireland and the other EU nations are demanding to know how that will work if Britain is outside the EU's borderless single market and its tariff-free customs union, a looser trading bloc that includes non-EU states like Turkey.

Elmar Brok, another member of the European Parliament who met Juncker and his Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, shortly before they met May, said "just a few words" had separated the sides and that there was a "very good chance" of agreement. But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland.

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Ahead of the meeting, a source close to the discussions on the Irish border told Sky News: "There's been some progress on the wording from both sides, but a bit of a distance to go".

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