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May handed 10-day ultimatum to offer an Irish border solution

By Gavin Cordon

Theresa May has been given 10 days to offer further concessions on issues including the Brexit divorce bill and the complex matter of the Northern Ireland border if she wants European Union leaders to agree to trade talks.

The Prime Minister hopes a crunch summit in Brussels next month will give the green light to move on to the next stage of the Brexit process, covering future trading arrangements.

After talks with the Prime Minister, European Council president Donald Tusk said it was "possible" sufficient progress could be made at the December summit but remained a "huge challenge".

"We need to see progress from UK within 10 days on all issues, including on Ireland," he said.

As she left a gathering of European leaders in Brussels, Mrs May said: "There are still issues across the various matters we are negotiating on to be resolved but there has been a very positive atmosphere in the talks and a genuine feeling that we want to move forward together."

On the border issue, Mrs May is coming under intense pressure from Dublin for fresh assurances there will be no "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warning that deadlock in Brexit negotiations cannot be broken until the issue is resolved.

The Prime Minister insisted "we have the same desire - we want to ensure that movement of people and trade across that border can carry on as now".

Mrs May's comments came after Downing Street backed away from suggestions that Northern Ireland's continued membership of the EU customs union could be up for negotiation in Brexit talks.

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