Deal agreed in Brexit talks

MP Mike Gapes

MP Mike Gapes

Juncker spoke by telephone to May and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, the spokesman said.

President Donald Tusk will make a statement on Brexit early on Friday, his office said on Thursday, prompting speculation on the fate of British Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for a deal with Brussels.

Negotiations between Brussels and London stretched late into the night, in the hope that the two sides could nail down a Brexit deal before an early morning press conference.

Second, we will fully protect and maintain Northern Ireland's position within the single market of the United Kingdom.

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Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: "It went right down to the wire, but businesses will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the United Kingdom and European Commission have reached agreement on phase one issues, putting us in a good position going into the Council meeting next week".

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: "It went right down to the wire, but businesses will be breathing a huge sigh of relief".

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'And we look forward to further clarity about what the UK's objectives are for that new relationship as well as a firm commitment on transition in the very near future'.

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If so, the European Union would then open long-anticipated talks on a future trade deal and a transition period with Britain.

"Specifically, more work is needed around the areas of cooperation where it would be necessary to have alignment of rules and standards", the DUP said, adding that more needed to be done to establish how alignment could be effected without staying in the EU's single market and customs union.

Before briefing Ms Foster, who had remained in Northern Ireland, the DUP pair would not say whether they were ready to accept new proposals, with a tight-lipped Sir Jeffrey saying only: "Discussions are ongoing".

To clinch a deal, though, May must ensure she has the support of the DUP, whose leader told her bluntly on Monday that it would not support her minority government's legislation unless the Irish border draft deal was changed. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - a leading Brexit campaigner - voiced concerns to May earlier this week when it looked like she was aiming for to preserve European Union rules after the divorce.

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