Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep all of the U.K.in a customs union with the European Union and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times reported, without naming sources.

There were claims Mrs May had secured a secret deal with the EU. "And perhaps there is a fudge so that she can say, "it is not for eternity", and then we have enough guarantees so that it looks like an all-weather thing", the source said.

But Britain's Conservative government and its Northern Irish ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, won't accept that because it would mean customs and regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

"The Tanaiste couldn't have been clearer that a time-limited backstop or a backstop that could be ended by the United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU".

"These ideas are not backstops at all and don't deliver on previous United Kingdom commitments".


The reports suggest that the Prime Minister has effectively abandoned her Chequers plan, and is now open to negotiating a different "landing zone" for the final deal.

It has so far suggested a backstop that would see the United Kingdom as a whole remaining aligned with the EU customs union, possibly for a limited time.

Read the full story. There's an exit mechanism - success. "The small print is that Ireland is f*****".

"Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement" - the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland - "and it is fraying relationships between Britain and Ireland", Varadkar said. The government has previously said the withdrawal agreement is 95 percent complete and that there's also been progress in talks on the future relationship.

He told RTÉ's "The Week in Politics": "Unfortunately that's the position that we find ourselves in now".


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

"I think it is possible to get a deal in November", he said.

The UK would effectively become a non-voting member of the European Union, forced to accept laws made in Brussels with no power to shape or amend them, he said.

The EU deems a backstop necessary to ensure there is no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, if the United Kingdom and the EU are unable to secure a long-term free trade deal after the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020.

Following a phone conversation with Mrs May on Monday morning, the Taoiseach said both leaders emphasised their commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland and the need for a legally operable backstop. "That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal", he said at a conference in London today.


"This is the backstop", he added, saying the United Kingdom had agreed that it would apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminated any need for Border infrastructure and checks.

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