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We'll get Brexit deal but not at any cost, Prime Minister tells Cabinet

Theresa May
Theresa May

Theresa May told the Cabinet that she was confident of reaching a withdrawal agreement with the EU and wanted to do so as soon as possible, but this must "not be done at any cost", Downing Street said.

The Cabinet met on Tuesday after reports over the weekend a deal between the UK and the EU on the Irish border was close. Something Number 10 dismissed as speculation.

It was rumoured Mrs May could propose an EU summit for the end of the month to gather European leaders to seal an agreement.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister assured ministers there would be another meeting of Cabinet before any withdrawal agreement is sealed, but her spokesman said that no extra meeting has yet been scheduled ahead of the regular gathering in Downing Street next Tuesday.

The issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has proved a near-impossible obstacle to overcome.

The EU is determined to include a backstop which would see Northern Ireland remain as part of a customs union and single market with the EU, to prevent a need for infrastructure at the border in the event of a no deal.

However, the UK Government would consider this as establishing an Irish Sea border and separate NI from the rest of the UK and instead is pushing for a UK-wide backstop arrangement.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday a resolution to the border issue was not close.

"We are still negotiating and I am not able to tell you that we are close to reaching an agreement, since there is still a real point of divergence on the way of guaranteeing peace in Ireland, that there are no borders in Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the single market,” he said.

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