Future of Irish border remains an obstacle in Brexit talks

No agreement has yet been reached between Britain and Ireland on the future of the Northern Irish border after Brexit, but a breakthrough could come later today, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

"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.

May met with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and will later speak with EU Council President Tusk amid hopes to make progress on the questions of Britain's exit bill, the Irish border and the rights of citizens.

Mrs May hopes to achieve a breakthrough during her visit to Brussels to meet Mr Juncker and European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.

Nadine Dorries, a member of Britain's ruling Conservative Party who supports Brexit, said May should tell European Union officials time is running out to move talks on to the next phase.

The Irish prime minister said he is "surprised and disappointed" that there was no agreement in Brexit talks today. The legislature, which must approve any withdrawal treaty if a disruptive Brexit is to be avoided in March 2019, has demanded that European Union courts have the final say in guaranteeing rights for 3 million European Union citizens in Britain.

She said: "There are a couple of issues, some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation".

Mr Juncker insisted that a deal could still be reached this week, having described Mrs May as a "tough negotiator". But the issues of the rights of expatriate citizens and the UK-EU border on the island of Ireland defied a deal until the last minute.

But critics say that it would effectively move the customs border between the United Kingdom and the Republic into the Irish Sea, if the rest of the United Kingdom was not in the single market. But the border issue has proved more intractable. 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.

May depends in parliament on a pro-British party in Northern Ireland that rejects any deal which would divide the province from the British mainland.

He added: "I still hope that this matter can be concluded in the coming days as agreed". "Getting closer to sufficient progress at December #EUCO".

  • Joey Payne