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May to reconvene Brexit talks with European Union this week
06 December 2017, 04:01 | Opal Carroll
Britain, EU fail to reach Brexit deal
"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.
"I have to say that she is a tough negotiator and not an easy one. But on a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation".
Luigi Ippolito of Italy's Corriere della Sera also sees Northern Ireland as the "last stumbling block for Brexit", and Turin's La Stampa agrees there is "trouble ahead for the government".
The status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has risen up the agenda in recent weeks to become the major stumbling block in the way of agreement.
Brexit talks broke up in Brussels without a deal, after a proposed solution for the Irish border met fierce resistance from the Democratic Unionist Party.
"I believe we are now close to concluding the first phase of negotiations and moving onto talk about our future trade relations".
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Regulatory alignment could mean both Ireland and Northern Ireland following the same rules governing trade, to ensure that goods can continue to move freely across a "soft" border with no checks.
How to maintain a soft Irish border has emerged as the key sticking point in Brexit negotiations, after London indicated it was ready to up its offer on the so-called "divorce bill" to as much as £50 billion.
"We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom", DUP leader Arlene Foster said in a statement. Mrs May will be accompanied by the Brexit Secretary David Davis for the discussions with Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk.
Tusk, the European Council President, was adamant Friday that the Ireland issue must be resolved before any post-Brexit trade discussions can move forward. But the issues of the rights of expatriate citizens and the UK-EU border on the island of Ireland remain fraught, diplomats say.
A jubilant Donald Tusk hinted that the next stage of talks between the United Kingdom and European Union was imminent and despite attempts to play down a deal over the weekend, advisers around the Prime Minister appeared optimistic.
May is pushing for a simultaneous, reciprocal guarantee from the European Union of a soft transition and future trade deal, which she may use to show Britons what her compromises have secured.