Irish border agreement has to be part of Brexit deal, Juncker warns

GETTY•REUTERSEU leaders have urged state members and companies to prepare for a Hard Brexit

"We have Ireland backed by 26 member states and the commission - this will not change".

Addressing both houses of the Irish Parliament in Dublin, he said time was running out to find a solution to the border issue.

European leaders meet in Brussels next week but a deal is not expected to be struck on the divorce's implications for the 300-mile border with its multiple crossing points until at least another European Council summit in the autumn.

The meeting coincides with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's two-day visit to Ireland.

The future of the Irish border is one of the most vexed outstanding issues facing negotiators in Brussels.

The Irish Government has already got the European Union to agree that if Northern Ireland joins the Republic it will automatically rejoin the European Union, mimicking what happened with East Germany in 1990.

The EU wants the backstop to involve Northern Ireland staying in the single market and customs union indefinitely after Brexit.

After his talks with the prime minister, allies of Mr Davis immediately claimed victory by insisting "much more detail" would be provided on the time-limited nature of the government's backstop proposal. There can be no final deal unless this issue is solved.

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Lord Adonis, who supports the Best for Britain anti-Brexit campaign, said: "Every day that the Prime Minister spends arguing with her own Cabinet and manoeuvring to rewrite the British constitution is a wasted day when it comes to our negotiations with our European Union partners".

"The Withdrawal Agreement without a backstop is of no use to us whatsoever".

He added that drama in Westminster this week over the "meaningful vote" amendment wasn't helping efforts to solve the Irish border conundrum, saying: "British politics isn't my concern".

"We are woefully unprepared for the reality of Mrs May's no-deal Brexit. The British government have been unable to deliver on that", he told reporters.

"These were honest and strong words from President Juncker to the Dáil and Seanad today and perhaps now the penny will finally drop with the Irish government that a hard Brexit is possible and we must accelerate our domestic preparedness", Deputy Chambers said last night.

"I am strongly against any temptation to isolate Ireland and not to conclude the deal on Ireland".

While welcoming the joint statement from the European Commission and the United Kingdom - outlining progress made on the terms of the draft withdrawal agreement since the last negotiation round in March - Mairead McGuinness, the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, framed her views ahead of Brexit meetings in Dublin tomorrow.

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