Irish PM: Theresa May set to make new offer on Irish border today

Posted On: 
7th December 2017

Theresa May intends to make a fresh offer to the EU on the Irish border today, Ireland's prime minister has claimed.

Leo Varadkar said he had spoken to figures in London
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister is under pressure to come up with a solution ahead of next week's European Council summit, when European leaders will decide whether "sufficient progress" has been made to move on to talks on the future UK-EU trading relationship.

Reports suggest European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will offer Mrs May up to the eve of next week's crunch meeting to resolve the issue.

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The Government's initial offer earlier this week was scuppered after opposition from the DUP, whose leader Arlene Foster said there was "still work to be done" following a brief call with Mrs May yesterday.

The DUP said Ms Foster was prepared to fly to London to try to hammer out a new deal. 

Meanwhile following a phone call with Mrs May, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a press conference last night: "Having consulted with people in London, she wants to come back to us with some text tonight or tomorrow.

"I expressed my willingness to move forward as well... because I want us to move on to phase two [of negotiations] if that is possible next week."

Mrs May told the House of Commons yesterday she was "working to protect the constitutional integrity of the UK and the internal market of the UK", while Brexit Secretary David Davis has made clear that no part of the UK will remain in the customs union or single market after Brexit.

JUNCKER 'FEARS'

Elsewhere the Daily Telegraph reports that Mr Juncker fears the Government could collapse by next week if a deal is not reached. 

He is apparently willing to extend the deadline for agreement on the Irish border issue right up to next Thursday, having previously suggested it would need to be ironed out by Sunday at the latest.

An EU official told the paper: "Mr Juncker wants to support Mrs May to avoid the collapse of her government. He is prepared to meet her at any time, including on days next week in the run up to the European summit."

And a Tory backbencher told the same paper the Prime Minister would have "a matter of weeks" left in the job if the uncertainty over negotiations continues.