Theresa May secures 'secret Brexit deal' to prevent Irish Sea border

Theresa May secures 'secret Brexit deal' to prevent Irish Sea border

"Goodness, we have been here on a number of occasions and I think we are close to a deal that will work for Northern Ireland, that is what we want", said Foster, whose party threatened to pull the plug on the government less than a month ago if the Brexit deal involved a border in the Irish sea.

UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

The newspaper said Raab made the pitch to Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, in a private meeting in London last Tuesday.

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.

May is also understood to be close to a political deal on a future economic partnership (FEP) with Brussels that would give Britain the green light to pursue a free trade deal similar to Canada.

The Irish Government is opposed to any suggestion the backstop would have an "exit clause" as suggested in the "Sunday Times" report. There's an exit mechanism - success.

"Anything that pulls the two communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship", he told Ireland's RTE radio.

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Asked about the report, a spokesman at May's office said: "This is all speculation. Negotiations are still continuing, and therefore we are 95 per cent of the way there in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement". The formula would be created to appeal both to Remain and Leave-supporting MPs, as well as Labour MPs who fear the prospect of a no-deal exit.

Mr Howlin said he was concerned Ireland had been "boxed into a corner where the backstop issue is the one remaining issue" and faced incredible pressure as a result.

Junior minister Damien English dismissed the suggestion that Ireland was "going to be shafted", insisting it was "not true".

He said there was a "rapidly ticking clock" but that minds were now being focused with a view to concluding a deal and he welcomed that.

However, despite the latest "compromise", Mr Raab once again could not rule out some regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, which the DUP could also reject. "I certainly hope we are".

A special summit is understood to have been pencilled in for later this month to agree the final details of a deal.

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