Brexit deal possible within weeks - Taoiseach

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster has said she will not support British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to have a Northern Ireland specific backstop.

Mr Varadkar made his remarks at a press conference after today's British-Irish Council meeting on the Isle of Man.

Ever since her botched gamble on a snap election in 2017 lost her party its majority in parliament, May has relied on the DUP to govern.

But the DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that the measure will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May's insistence it will never come into effect.

Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers, and DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson have said they would oppose any agreement "at the price of our union".

In it, Ms. May reportedly tried to assure her allies that she would never allow a Brexit deal proposal offered by Brussels to "come into force".

But Brussels appears set to insist on a Northern Ireland-only "backstop to the backstop" in case negotiations on a wider United Kingdom approach break down or any time limit on it expires.

The prime minister's letter has provoked the ire of DUP leader, Arlene Foster, claiming May's words have set off "alarm bells" for her party on the issues of the customs union and single market.

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The essence of the proposal of the Ministers is to continue to pay membership dues to the European Union until 2021 and to follow the rules of the unit, avoiding sudden breakage of relationship in March 2019 when the country will leave the EU.

With less than five months to go until Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, both sides remain at odds over how to avoid a hard border in Ireland and are yet to agree a backup plan for the Irish border should a no-deal Brexit occur.

In response to the emergence of the letter, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister's letter sets out her commitment, which she has been absolutely clear about on any number of occasions, to never accepting any circumstances in which the United Kingdom is divided into two customs territories".

"I don't think it leaves it on shaky ground because of course the confidence and supply agreement was entered into at a time of great national instability, we wanted to see stability in the Government at that time and we also wanted to deliver on a Brexit vote that had been taken".

"And we'll do our best to work through it and make sure we get the best outcome for our citizens".

"The only thing I would say is that it is very important that we listen to the voice of Northern Ireland in all of this".

"I was in Dublin a few days ago".

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