Why Irish border deal is crucial to Brexit

Saul Bowman
December 5, 2017

Ms Sturgeon said on Twitter: " If one part of United Kingdom can retain regulatory alignment with European Union 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".

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

The U.K. has reportedly accepted there will be "no regulatory divergence" of EU customs union and single market rules for Ireland after Brexit, according to RTE.

"We had an agreement this morning", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, expressing disappointment at the last-minute glitch.

Sterling soared higher on Monday afternoon amid optimism that Brexit talks will break the current deadlock and move onto topics like a future trade deal between the two sides. This is possible because both the United Kingdom and Ireland are part of the EU's borderless single market for goods and services as well as the tariff-less customs union.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar by phone.

The border issue remained the main sticking point.

Irish PM 'surprised and disappointed' by no deal on Irish border

David McAllister, a vice-president of the European People's Party - the European Parliament's largest grouping - said it was "difficult to predict" whether EU leaders will sanction the start of second phase Brexit talks this month, also classing the prospects of progress at "50/50".

May and Juncker made no comment to reporters when they met at the European Union executive's Berlaymont headquarters for a lunch that diplomats and officials hope can seal a breakthrough that would open the way to negotiations on future trade relations. "But on a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation". "We have common understanding on most issues".

However, unionists tend to view with scepticism any proposal for harmonisation of rules on either side of the border.

The EU has demanded "sufficient progress" on key withdrawal issues - the UK's exit payment, citizens' rights and Irish border - before the second phase can start.

"The 4.5m people who will be directly affected by Brexit will not be able to carry on with their lives as normal if the European Commission decides that "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights on Wednesday 6th December", said a statement of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK citizens residing in the EU.

"And the problem between the Republic and Northern Ireland is a effect of the British decision not only to leave the EU but also the single market and the customs union".

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