Theresa May faces further Brexit questions in Commons

Diplomat Brexit talks heading the right way

Diplomat Brexit talks heading the right way

"While we are willing to consider them, we believe the agreement we had on Monday is one that would work for Ireland".

Varadkar said there was "room to manoeuvre" the deal into the right position before the European council summit next week.

The move comes amid warnings by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that she may have to wait until the new year for trade talks.

The text agreed on Monday between British and European Union negotiators on the future of Northern Ireland's border must be retained, Ireland's finance minister said on Wednesday.

Mr Coveney told the Dáil (Irish parliament) sensitive negotiations were ongoing and he would not make any statement that might create difficulties. This would obviate the need for a hard border.

The Irish government has demanded a written agreement from the United Kingdom that there will be no return to a hard border - one involving checkpoints or barriers - after Brexit.

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Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, has told member states that the British government has just 48 hours to agree a text on a potential deal or it will be told that negotiations will not move on to the next stage.

After talks in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dutch PM Mark Rutte made clear the European Union would not compromise and allow the Irish border to be kicked down the road to phase two of the talks, even under threat of Britain crashing out with no deal or divorce negotiations dragging on to 2018.

Varadkar has said that he is willing to listen to any proposals the United Kingdom will offer but added that it was "up to them" to approach the Irish government.

"That's all the prime minister was seeking to achieve, to make sure we can ensure that trade flows as freely as possible across the border of Northern Ireland and southern Ireland".

"My responsibility as taoiseach (Irish PM) is to protect our fundamental national interest and that is the rights of Irish citizens in Ireland and Britain, and also the avoidance of a return to a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland".

A tentative deal on the border, which is required for Britain to move to the next phase of Brexit talks, was agreed on Monday with Dublin's blessing.

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And she urgently needs to find a proposal that Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party can accept on what the Irish border will look like after Brexit.

Earlier, veteran Conservative MP Ken Clark said the government had made a "pig's ear" of the border negotiations. Friday's deal seems to simply delay decisions on some key points, including how to keep the Irish border open.

He added: "They should have kept the DUP completely in the loop and discussed it with them and explained it with them as it went along".

"In the absence of that kind of clarity; in the absence of a deal that secures that very thing; then we are undoubtedly headed towards a border on the island of Ireland, the undermining of the Good Friday Agreement and everything else that might flow from that", she said.

Mrs O'Neill added that the DUP did not represent the "majority view" in Northern Ireland.

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