Ireland says United Kingdom can not unilaterally scrap border backstop

Leo Varadkar said he has a good relationship with DUP leader Arlene Foster

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier proposed then that a new customs arrangement would be set out in the legally binding withdrawal treaty itself, bending an EU "red line" under which he had previously insisted that the future EU-UK relationship on trade could only be outlined now, and negotiated after Brexit.

The opposition Labour Party has all but ruled out supporting any deal May reaches with Brussels, leaving the prime minister reliant on her slender parliamentary majority that comprises her own divided MPs and coalition partners the Democratic Unionist party.

The backstop ensures that Northern Ireland would stay "aligned" to the regulations of the single market and the customs union if there is still no other solution that would avoid infrastructure along the Irish border.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, made clear on Monday morning that this would never be agreed.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Prime Minister on Monday that he was ready to consider a review mechanism as part of a "backstop" arrangement to keep the border with Northern Ireland open after Brexit.

"The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

"The (British) Prime Minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop", the spokeswoman added.

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"This is the backstop", he added, saying the United Kingdom had agreed that it would apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminated any need for Border infrastructure and checks.

It is speculated that May is hoping for enough progress in Brexit talks this week to secure a summit later this month in which the final details of a deal will be negotiated.

Speaking at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin, Mr Coveney said he believed "it is possible to get a deal in November", adding: "This border issue is complicated to resolve. but I think we're very close to resolving it".

The DUP's Donaldson, whose party has repeatedly criticized Dublin's approach, said a no-deal Brexit would have serious consequences for Ireland's economy and he "can't understand why Irish Government seems so intent on this course".

He told RTÉ's "The Week in Politics": "Unfortunately that's the position that we find ourselves in now".

In a letter to Mrs May they say Parliament should not be bound by the 2016 vote any more than it should be by the 1975 referendum that took Britain into the European Union, especially when there are question marks over its validity.

The Guardian cited unidentified European Union officials saying the chances of Mrs May reaching a deal on the Irish border that she can sell to Cabinet and Parliament were only "50-50".

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