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United Kingdom and European Union fail to reach Brexit deal after crunch Brussels meeting
05 December 2017, 02:01 | Marta Robbins
Irish PM 'surprised and disappointed' by no deal on Irish border
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar by phone.
According to a leak to the Irish state broadcaster RTE, the United Kingdom was willing to agree to Northern Ireland having "continued regulatory alignment" with the Republic of Ireland to ensure there was a continued soft border between the North and South.
The Irish Times are reporting that the "agreement is based on maintaining "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit".
Mr Juncker insisted that a deal could still be reached this week, having described Mrs May as a "tough negotiator". "If no clear commitment is made, the EPP group will not be ready to assess the progress made as sufficient to enter a 2nd phase of negotiations", Manfred Weber, German MEP and leader of the largest group, the European People's Party in the EP, tweeted.
But the two sides said they were within striking distance of consensus, setting up a hectic negotiating rush ahead of an European Union summit next week.
However, unionists tend to view with scepticism any proposal for harmonisation of rules on either side of the border.
"It's probably about 50/50 whether there will be agreement in the near future".
But they added: "A deal is sought, but it all turns on Ireland, and if the Irish government gives Barnier the green light".
While Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted the entire United Kingdom will leave the single market, European Council president Donald Tusk made clear that Brexit talks cannot move on to trade issues unless the United Kingdom can satisfy Dublin there will be no return to a strictly-controlled border in Ireland.
"Obviously, we would like that to be the case".
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who called for London to be offered access to the single market if Northern Ireland could have it, tweeted that the "clear solution to this government chaos" was for the whole of the United Kingdom to remain in the single market and customs union, this sidestepping the issue of where the border would be. Officials said he was preparing to call round European Union leaders to get agreement on trade negotiations.
"The Irish Government leaked a document which isn't the case, as far as I can tell".
"Not every single question has to be answered but we need sufficient progress on these very sensitive issues".
Varadkar said he was "surprised and disappointed that the British government now appears not to be in a position to conclude what was agreed earlier today".
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