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Varadkar and Dodds offer differing views on Brexit

Varadkar and Dodds offer differing views on Brexit

The First Minister was speaking following a meeting of the British-Irish Council on the Isle of Man, which was also attended by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Ireland's Leo Varadkar.

The letter is seen by some observers, as well as the DUP, as part of a laying of the groundwork by the prime minister for a showdown with the party over checks in British ports, or factories in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

One of the scenarios being discussed is Britain remaining in a customs agreement with the European Union for a limited period even after the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, which would avoid the introduction of new border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, Walker said.

"I think that if we get the withdrawal agreement, and the accompanying political declaration, which I hope that we can secure in the weeks to come, that will create a new dynamic", Lidington said.

'If a deal emerges shaped on the contents of the PM's letter, DUP MPs & our allies will not support it, ' Wilson later tweeted.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the letter "makes it quite clear the Government has accepted there will be a Northern Ireland-only backstop, that that backstop will require specific alignment for regulations" without Northern Ireland being given a say.

But DUP leaders said on Friday that Ms.

May sent a five-page letter on Tuesday to the leaders of Northern Ireland's small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that supports her government.

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The prime minister has been pushing to agree a UK-wide backstop arrangement, which would see the whole United Kingdom remain in an effective customs union with the EU, after rejecting Brussels' proposal of a Northern Ireland-only solution.

But Brussels appears set to insist on a Northern Ireland-only "backstop to the backstop" in case negotiations on a wider United Kingdom approach break down or any time limit on it expires.

Mr Varadkar said he believed the negotiations were at a "sensitive point", and while a successful outcome is not guaranteed a deal is possible in next few weeks.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister would not agree to "anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland".

They said May had earlier promised them it never would - and they threatened to vote against the agreement.

Despite the continuing uncertainty, Theresa May is reportedly hopeful of finally reaching an agreement with the European Union over the next few days ahead of a crunch Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The UK government has so far proposed a backstop - with an expected end date of 2021 - which would effectively keep the whole of the UK in the EU customs union for a limited period after Brexit.