'Progress on deal' ahead of May-Juncker Brexit talks

Theresa May's smoke and mirrors Brexit gambit didn't even last an afternoon - it's not difficult to see why

Theresa May's smoke and mirrors Brexit gambit didn't even last an afternoon - it's not difficult to see why

The EU has said it will allow negotiations on the Britain's future trade relations with the EU to begin only when there has been sufficient progress on these separation issues. They have since accept Europe's timetable. The other 27 have held a common front on making Britain pay for past commitments, but all have varying interests in a trade deal and so will want time to ensure the guidelines defend their own positions.

They once ruled out paying an exit bill.

Britain and the European Union came close Monday to agreeing on key divorce terms, including how to maintain an open Irish border after the United Kingdom - including Northern Ireland - leaves the EU.

Johnson said Wednesday that "the best way to sort it out is to get onto the second phase of the negotiations, where all these hard issues can be properly teased out, thrashed out, and solved".

"In the final stretch of these complex negotiations, the prime minister is on a razor edge", he writes, and wonders whether Mrs May's latest concession to Brussels might now "unpin the Brexit hand grenade in the UK" and "ignite Belfast, and then Edinburgh and Cardiff" in revolt against her planned deal. If talks on Monday go well then European Union leaders could give a green light to trade talks at their summit on December 14-15. They include an end to free movement of people from the EU into Britain and for the European Court of Justice to have no further role in British legal matters after March 2019. But any solution will need the support of Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 members of parliament are propping up May's government.

The DUP said it's opposed to any arrangement in which the rules in Northern Ireland are different from those that apply in the rest of the United Kingdom. "We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and we will be able to do that while we respect the internal market of the United Kingdom", she said.

Colm Kelpie, who writes on Brexit for the Irish Independent, says Mrs May has "little wriggle room" in her talks with the Democratic Unionists, and expresses amazement that the "DUP was not already on board if the wording of a text was agreed that was acceptable to the Irish Government".

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