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Irish foreign minister says Brexit border breakthrough possible on Monday

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Between a rock and a hard place for Theresa May		
	
		 Dec 5 2017 Sri Lanka Guardian Feature News No comments

For anyone who slept through Monday, the deadline set by the EU27 for the United Kingdom to make "sufficient progress" on the three key article 50 issues - the financial settlement, citizens' rights and the Irish border - in order to move on to phase two of the Brexit talks passed - and in fairly dramatic fashion.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said that it is impossible to reach a deal today.

Today is the deadline to submit the UK's position on a financial settlement, Irish border among other issues for it to be put to the leaders of the European Union 27 for them to decide if "sufficient" progress has been made.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Brexit negotiations must not be held up by disputes over Irish borders and that the issue should be tackled in phase two of departure talks. "But on a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation". "I am very confident that we will reach an agreement in the course of this week", added the former Luxembourg premier.

Denis Staunton, the London editor of the Irish Times, accuses Theresa May of "dithering" on the border issue, and warns that she could come under pressure from the DUP and Brexit supporters in her own party to "walk away from talks".

"I am surprised and disappointed that the British government now appears not to be in a position to conclude what was agreed earlier today", Varadkar said at a press conference in Dublin.

But any solution will need the support of Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 members of parliament are propping up May's government.

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The EU estimated at some 60 billion euros ($71 billion) what Britain should pay to cover outstanding obligations on leaving.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk pose ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017.

Meanwhile the leaders of devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and London added a further complication by announcing that if Northern Ireland was to be offered a special status after Brexit, other parts of the United Kingdom should be offered a similar opportunity.

"The show is now in London", commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.

And he said reports that Mrs May was ready to allow a role for the European Court of Justice in overseeing EU citizens' rights in post-Brexit Britain were "utterly unacceptable".

May is pushing for a simultaneous, reciprocal guarantee from the European Union of a soft transition and future trade deal, which she may use to show Britons what her compromises have secured.

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