Irish PM: Brexit is undermining N. Ireland's peace accord

Irish PM: Brexit is undermining N. Ireland's peace accord

Theresa May is hopeful of keeping Britain in a customs union and avoiding the need for a hard border in Northern Ireland after receiving "private concessions" from the European Union, according to reports.

British media reports that Mrs May had already concluded a "secret deal", were dismissed by negotiators.

Ahead of Mrs May's cabinet meeting, sources here said the situation was at its "most sensitive yet" and she will be "dancing on the head of a pin" to secure agreement on the deal in her government.

Ireland's prime minister has told Theresa May in a hastily arranged phone call that he cannot allow the United Kingdom to unilaterally decide when to terminate the Irish backstop, creating the possibility that Britain could be tied in a customs union with the EU for the long term.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, made clear on Monday morning that this would never be agreed. "These ideas are not backstops at all + don't deliver on previous United Kingdom commitments".

The PM has secured "private concessions" from Brussels that the whole of the United Kingdom will be allowed to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit occurs in March, according to The Sunday Times' political editor Tim Shipman.

You can read the Sunday Times' full story here. "The small print is that Ireland is f*****".

Downing Street has insisted it does not have a deal ready for signoff, in response to reports over the weekend of there being an agreement in the making.

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The leader of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, Eloise Todd, said: "When the history of Brexit is written in a few years' time the backstop and the UK's decisions around it will be held up as an example of how not to negotiate".

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he wouldn't add to what he described as "speculation".

"I said so back then and I'm still concerned now".

Mr Coveney's spokesperson said the European Union had been united through the Brexit process and the UK had given written commitments that the Withdrawal Agreement would give a legal guarantee of no return to a hard Border in Ireland in any circumstance.

Mr Brokenshire, appearing on television, was asked if a deal was close, replying: "Well, we want to get that deal, we're obviously working hard to see that that happens".

Senior sources told the paper that May has secured concessions from Brussels, with the EU agreeing to write an "all-U.K." customs union into the divorce deal.

"In March the United Kingdom agreed this backstop will apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminates any need for border infrastructure or related checks and controls".

The Irish border has proved the biggest obstacle to a deal, with both sides vowing not to reinstate a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland for fear of destabilizing a peace accord that ended decades of deadly sectarian violence.

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