Theresa May strikes Brexit deal with EU after winning DUP backing in all-night talks
3 min read
Theresa May has finally struck a deal with Brussels which will allow trade talks between Britain and the European Union to begin within weeks.
Following a night of talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster, the Prime Minister flew to the Belgian capital with Brexit Secretary David Davis for a breakfast meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier.
They rubber-stamped an agreement that "sufficient progress" had been made on the final Brexit divorce bill, citizens' rights and - crucially - the future of the Irish border to allow the negotiations to move onto the next phase in the New Year.
At a press conference shortly before 7am, Mrs May said: "We've been working extremely hard this week, and as you've all seen it hasn't been easy for either side. When we met on Monday we said a deal was within reach. What we have arrived at today represents a significant improvement.
"Getting to this point has required give and take on both sides and I believe that the joint report being published is in the best interests of the whole of the UK.
"I very much welcome the prospect of moving ahead to the next phase, to talk about trade and security, and to discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests."
European Commission president Mr Juncker praised Mrs May's "determination" to get a deal done after talks dramatically broke down on Monday when Ms Foster rejected the Government's proposals for avoiding a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Mr Juncker said: "Prime Minister May has assured me that (the deal) has the backing the of UK government. I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed"
The agreement will now be formally ratified at next week's European Council summit in Brussels.
Speaking to Sky News, Arlene Foster said she had secured "six substantial changes" to the text which she had rejected on Monday.
She said: "There is no red line down the Irish sea and clear confirmation that the entirety of the UK is leaving the Europen Union, leaving the single market and leaving the customs union."
The DUP leader added: "There are still matters there that we would have liked to see clarified. We ran out of time, essentially. We think we needed to go back again and talk about those matters, but the PM has decided to go to Brussels."
The breakthrough is a massive boost for Mrs May, who had been under massive pressure to break the deadlock ahead of next week's summit.
However, she now has to sell the agreement to her own warring party - and win the backing of senior Brexiters in her Cabinet, including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
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