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06 November 2018, 12:00 | Devin Moran
Leo Varadkar said he has a good relationship with DUP leader Arlene Foster
Rumours are swirling about how close, or not, we are to a Brexit deal.
Brexit is fraying Britain's relationship with Ireland, the country's prime minister Leo Varadkar has warned.
"The British government has set out its stall to make "decisive progress" on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop by Friday, in the hope that Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, could then call an extraordinary Brexit summit for the end of the month to seal the deal".
Mr Varadkar insisted that Britain could not decide to do that on its own.
"I don't accept that rejecting the deal would necessarily mean it is no deal at all", he said.
Reports at the weekend that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the EU's proposed Irish backstop after just three months had been criticised by the Irish government.
Instead, the government has mooted a temporary customs union for the whole UK.
The EU is still insisting that in the absence of a full trade deal, Northern Ireland should stay in the EU customs union while the rest of the United Kingdom leaves to ensure the Irish border remains open.
There will be an "exit clause" from the customs union in a bid to convince Brexiteers that it is not a permanent arrangement as May looks to secure enough votes to get the deal through parliament, said the paper.
According to the newspaper, May is also planning to reach an agreement on the EU-UK post-Brexit economic partnership, as she aspires to ensure free trade between London and Brussels.
"We want to have control of the immigration policy, Chequers does not appear to allow that".
A spokesman for Ireland's Tanaiste Simon Coveney said: "The UK has given written commitments last December and March that the Withdrawal Agreement will include a legal guarantee of no return to a hard border in Ireland in any circumstance".
"The (British) Prime Minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop", the spokeswoman added.
'So, we think there's a deal to be had if they recognise that the deal is unacceptable to Parliament, I think that opens up a vista of the opportunity of the real negotiations'.
The two sides now have only days left to bridge the remaining gap in order for an European Union summit to be called this month that could sign off a divorce agreement.
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