LONDON — Theresa May has agreed the text of a Brexit divorce deal after all night talks with European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, the DUP and the Irish government.
The prime minister made a series of calls on Thursday to the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the leader of the DUP Arlene Foster late on Thursday before finally agreeing a compromise position on the Northern Ireland border.
“I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed,” Juncker said in a joint press conference with May, saying that “sufficient progress” had been made on Northern Ireland, Britain’s divorce deal and EU citizens, in order to allow the next stage of talks on Britain’s future relationship with the EU to start.
He said that May had negotiated in a “generous” manner and made “significant commitments” on all of the three main issues that were up for negotiation.
An agreement had been expected earlier in the week but was effectively vetoed by the DUP after the original version of the text suggested there would be continued “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
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Speaking to Sky News, Foster said there had now been “substantial changes” to the text.
Martin Selmayr, who is deputy to the chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted a picture of white smoke in the early hours of Friday as it became clear a deal had been done.
The EU Council wil meet on Thursday and Friday next week to formally agree the deal made between May and the Commission.
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