Brexit breakthrough: text on how to manage the Irish border 'agreed'

A MAJOR breakthrough on how to manage the Irish border after Brexit has been achieved.

The EU Taskforce and British government representatives agreed to the ‘backstop’ late last night, it has emerged.

While government sources in Dublin were this evening urging “calm”, it is understood the text is now under active consideration by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

She decided not to present any details of a deal to her Cabinet this morning.

And in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attempted to play down reports that an agreement on the Irish question has been reached.

He repeatedly refused to answer questions on the reports of a deal from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Labour’s Brendan Howlin.

The latest version of the backstop is expected to involve a temporary UK-wide customs arrangement with the EU.

However, it will include specific provisions for Northern Ireland. The region will be more tightly aligned to EU rules. This element will face opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up Mrs May’s minority government.

RTÉ reported this evening that while the text is regarded as “stable”, it is still being scrutinised in London.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spokesman has insisting “nothing has been confirmed”.

“We have not been informed that an agreement has been reached.”

However he added this it is “a fast moving situation” and “we know discussions have been developing”.

He adds that the Irish position relating to a backstop needing to be in place “unless and until” something better is established remains.

There is now a growing expectation that Mrs May will schedule a special meeting for tomorrow.

However, a spokesperson for Tánaiste Simon Coveney told Independent.ie: “Negotiations between the EU and UK on a Withdrawal Agreement are ongoing and have not concluded.

“Negotiators are still engaged and a number of issues are outstanding. We are not commenting further on leaks in the media.”

More to follow

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