World

Brexit talks 'breakthrough' for Theresa May in European Union negotiations

Brexit talks 'breakthrough' for Theresa May in European Union negotiations

Commission European President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a speech at just before 7am saying sufficient progress has been made to move onto the second stage of the terms of the divorce.

Confirming the PM's calls, a Number 10 spokesman said: "Discussions about taking forward the Brexit process are ongoing". May is struggling to balance those demands against the concerns of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which she relies on to support her government in Parliament.

"It is moving quite quickly at the moment", the Irish official told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce event in Brussels.

The UK and the European Union struck a deal to unlock divorce negotiations, opening the way for talks on what businesses are keenest to nail down - the nature of the post-Brexit future.

European Council President Donald Tusk was also set to make a statement giving a "situational update" on Brexit at 06.50 GMT, adding to the fevered speculation about a deal.

Negotiations between Brussels and London stretched late into the night, in the hope that the two sides could nail down a Brexit deal before an early morning press conference.




But the EU will only move to trade talks if there is enough progress on three key issues: the money Britain must pay to the EU; rights for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU; and how to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

The Prime Minister is under intense pressure to get leaders at the December 14 European Council summit to declare "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce issues so trade talks can begin.

The DUP insists it will not accept any agreement in which Northern Ireland was treated differently from the rest of the UK. "We are calling for people to come out to Roslea on Saturday and send a message that we can not have a reinforcement of the border in Ireland", said Erne East Councillor Brian McCaffrey.

In another apparent compromise, the United Kingdom also appears to have agreed European Union families can apply for "settled status" on a single form, reducing the cost and paperwork involved.

Mrs May's Conservative administration is fiercely divided over Brexit - her Cabinet has yet to decide what kind of trading arrangements it wants from Europe.


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