European Union to offer Irish border compromise in Brexit talks

Leo Varadkar said he has a good relationship with DUP leader Arlene Foster

Mr Varadkar told the Irish state broadcaster RT: "Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland".

"Looks like we're heading for no deal", Jeffrey Donaldson, one of 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) lawmakers whose support May now needs to get any deal passed in the British parliament, said on Twitter.

The DUP is opposed to a Northern Ireland-specific backstop, since, if it came into effect, it would require Northern Ireland to be more closely aligned with the EU's customs and trade rules than the rest of the UK.

UKIP released a statement claiming a "secret" deal had been struck in Brussels and the United Kingdom would remain an "associate" member of the EU's Single Market and Customs Union after Brexit day in March.

But it later recouped losses when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said "Thumbs up" when asked by a BBC reporter to describe a cabinet meeting he had just attended in London on Brexit negotiations.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney had earlier said that neither Ireland nor the European Union would ever sign up to an agreement that could be ended unilaterally.

Downing Street claimed the report about the deal is "all speculation".

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Brexit talks have been deadlocked over the so-called backstop - the fallback position that would be activated if a future EU-UK trade deal does not produce a solution that would prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

A Downing Street spokesman said on Sunday the report was "speculation" and that negotiations with the European Union are ongoing, although he reiterated the government's line that the withdrawal agreement is 95 per cent complete and that it's making progress on the future relationship.

A No10 spokesman said the British and Irish leaders had agreed the backstop would "a temporary arrangement", but May had emphasised that there would need to be "a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end".

The Sunday Times reported that preparations for a final deal were far more advanced than previously disclosed and could pave the way for a special UK/EU summit later this month and a possible vote in Parliament in December.

"We are committed to everything we have agreed to in the joint report and we will ensure there is no border on the island of Ireland", she told the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in London on Monday. "That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal". Alternatively, it is proposed to establish in Northern Ireland a free customs zone, which, in turn, resent the EU.

"So, we think there's a deal to be had if they recognise that the deal is unacceptable to Parliament, I think that opens up a vista of the opportunity of the real negotiations".

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