- Crunch Brexit talks fail to produce an agreement on the Irish border issue.
- “It was not possible to make a complete agreement today,” Theresa May told journalists in Brussels.
- DUP concerns sunk chances of a deal being reached today.
- Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “surprised and disappointed” that May had gone back on her word.
- The EU had set Monday, December 4 as the deadline for a deal to be reached on phase one of talks.
LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have confirmed that British and EU negotiators have failed to reach a deal on the first phase of Brexit talks after hours of negotiations.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels on Monday afternoon, the pair said that work still needed to be done on the Irish border.
The UK prime minister said: “Despite our best efforts and significant progress teams have made in recent days, it was not possible to make a complete agreement today.”
She added: “I am confident that we will conclude this positively.”
Juncker agreed that while significant progress had been made in Brexit talks there was not yet sufficient agreement to enable the negotiations to move onto future trade and transition.
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “surprised and disappointed” that May appeared to have gone back on the deal on the Irish border he had agreed with her this morning.
“The responsibility of any prime minister is to ensure that they can follow through on agreements that they make and we are surprised and disappointed that they haven’t been able to,” he told a press conference.
It was widely reported this morning that May had agreed a deal with the Irish government that there would be “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the EU.
Varadkar said a text had been agreed with May but added that the prime minister now appeared to “need a little bit more time” to reach an agreement.
DUP scupper deal
Reports that May had reached an agreement with Ireland were met with incredulity from the DUP earlier on Monday, with their leader Arlene Foster warning in a press conference that they “will not accept” any such deal.
Foster’s comments appear to have caught Downing Street off guard this afternoon, with senior sources telling Business Insider that May was forced to leave talks with Juncker in order to speak to the DUP leader on the phone. The talks ended shortly afterwards with May then announcing that no deal had been reached.
Conservative MPs were later briefed by Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell that no deal had been reached.
One prominent Brexit-supporting Conservative MP welcomed the fact that no deal with Ireland had been reached.
“It turns out that we haven’t decided to dismantle the United Kingdom and give into the demands of the Irish government,” they said.
“The DUP and the Conservative and Unionist party are at one at keeping the United Kingdom together and Gavin Barwell made it absolutely clear we are not going have as he said trade [differences] between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. It would be completely intolerable.”
“You cannot align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union and if we align the whole of the United Kingdom with the regulation of theEeuropean Union then we haven’t left the European Union so there is a logical impossibility in doing what the irish government proposes without either remaining in the European Union or splitting up the United Kingdom, neither of which I I’m in favour of.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 4, 2017
Reports that May had agreed to “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the EU led to immediate calls for similar assurances to be given to other parts of the UK.
The Scotish First minister Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and London Mayor Sadiq Khan all argued that they should also be given special access to the single market and customs union if this is granted to Northern Ireland as part of a Brexit package.
Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it's possible for part of the UK to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) December 4, 2017
If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 4, 2017
We cannot allow different parts of the UK to be more favourably treated than others. If one part of the UK is granted continued participation in the Single Market & Customs Union, then we fully expect to be made the same offer.
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) December 4, 2017
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