EU gives Theresa May until Sunday to come up with Irish border deal

Posted On: 
7th December 2017

The EU has said Theresa May must come up with a solution to the Irish border question by midnight on Sunday if she wants to move to the next phase of Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker before their meeting on Monday Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker before their meeting on Monday

There had been suggestions this morning that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was willing to wait until next Thursday to secure a deal.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday he expected to see a new offer from Mrs May by today, although he has also said trade talks may not get the green light until 2018.

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The Prime Minister had hoped to secure a deal earlier this week, but had to row back after the DUP said they would not accept a draft deal that suggested “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

At a press briefing this morning, Commission spokesman Margaritas Schinas made clear that the final deadline for the UK was this Sunday.

“We stand ready to receive Prime Minister May at any moment in time when they’re ready,” he told reporters.

“This will have to happen this week. In this building, we work for a full week, 24/7, and our week includes Sunday.”

A Number 10 spokesman sounded an optimistic note this morning, telling reporters: “We are close to an agreement but there is ongoing work still to be done and it is an ongoing process.”

Elsewhere Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made clear that whatever solution is on the table must be consistent with the Leave campaign’s promises to voters.

"It is very, very important that whatever happens now, whatever we agree, has got to be consistent with taking back control of our laws, of our borders and our cash,” he said after a speech in Westminster.