Irish foreign minister says Brexit border breakthrough possible today

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker met for talks at the European Commission in Brussels on Monday

Arrangements which would effectively allow Northern Ireland to remain part of the European single union would prevent the return of a "hard border" between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

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

The DUP say they never assented to any of the wording which leaked out of the Brexit discussions, whether it be "no regulatory divergence" across the island of Ireland after Brexit or "continued regulatory alignment".

"Crucially it is clear that we want to move forward together, but on a couple of issues, differences do remain, which require further negotiation and consultation", said May before heading to meet President of the European Council Donald Tusk nearly one-hour late than scheduled.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels with Mr Juncker, Mrs May said: "We have been negotiating hard".

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.

Government negotiators have 10 days until the full European summit to try to placate the DUP and make progress towards the Holy Grail of phase two trade talks.

The Prime Minister was within touching distance on Monday of a reaching an agreement with the EU's Brexit taskforce on the so-called "divorce issues" after a frantic day of negotiations in Brussels.

This development comes ahead of May's crucial meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday where she will present the UK's final offer on the three main issues in the first round of Brexit talks - the Irish border, citizens' rights and the financial settlement, the Guardian reported.

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 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.

"It is now getting very tight but agreement at December (summit) is still possible", he tweeted.

He added: "The indications we have is that we are in a much better place now than we have been in the negotiations to date".

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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