Belfast Telegraph

Irish Government 'willing to compromise with Brexit deal' to get Theresa May off hook with DUP

The Irish Government is willing to facilitate a "clarification" being added to the text of a Brexit deal with the UK if it gets Theresa May off the hook with DUP, the Irish Independent understands.

While no requests for changes to the deal outlining "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and the Republic have been made since talks collapsed on Monday, Dublin has opened the door to a truce.

Anglo-Irish relations are at a modern day low following the controversy and the UK Prime Minister is struggling to hold her minority government together.

A Brexit blame game is underway in London, Belfast and Dublin after Mrs May failed to show the DUP, who prop up her government, the text of an agreement she was willing to sign on Monday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has described the idea of closely linking Northern Ireland's trading rules with Dublin as akin to putting a border in the Irish Sea.

However, now understands Taoiseach Leo Varadkar would be open to adding to the text of the deal if it helped end the increasingly bitter dispute.

Several sources confirmed Dublin is willing to facilitate a “clarification” within the text.

“We have concrete evidence of an agreement between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister, which was endorsed by the presidents of European Council and European Commission. We absolutely feel we can’t budge one inch,” said a source central to the Irish negotiation team.

But they added that so long as the meaning of the text didn’t change, “a line clarifying that the agreement does not undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom could be considered”.

Another source in Dublin rejected any attempt by UK politicians to blame Dublin for delaying the Brexit talks, saying: “If Phase II doesn’t happen now it’s because of the DUP.”

Officials here believe Ms  Foster has “set out to villainise” the Taoiseach and Tánaiste with statements that are “utterly untrue" over the past 24 hours.

Claims that Dublin blocked Mrs May from showing the DUP an agreed text on the Irish Border were dismissed as “farcical”.

“That would be like Theresa May saying ‘don’t show this to Shane Ross’,” said a senior government source.

 Ms Foster also launched a scathing attack on Simon Coveney, describing the new Tánaiste as “quite aggressive”.

She pointed to comments made by Mr Coveney at an Oireachtas committee last month where he said he would like to see a united Ireland “in my political lifetime”.

“Simon thinks it’s OK to speak about an Irish language Act and it’s quite OK to say: ‘I want a united Ireland and it’s going to happen in my political lifetime’, so it goes both ways,” Ms Foster said.

With relations rapidly deteriorating, a spokesperson for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night gave a “categorical denial” that he told the UK government not to show the text of a draft deal to the DUP.

Asked if there were concerns London may have tried to blame Dublin for the fiasco, the spokesman said the issue would “almost certainly” be discussed with the EU Taskforce.

However he added that Ireland wants to “give London time and space” to convince the DUP of the value of the ‘regulatory alignment’ with the EU in the wake of Brexit.

In the Dáil, Mr Varadkar admitted that Anglo-Irish relations are at their most fraught in recent history.

“Relations were probably at their peak since independence around the time of the Queen’s visit and the years after that,” he said.

“Relations had been strained in the last year or two, not because of a decision we made but because of Brexit, which is a British policy and a British decision, one that we respect but that we are aware causes enormous problems, not only for us but for others in Europe as well,” he added.

Mrs May is now scrambling to the get the DUP on board with her Brexit plans before returning to Brussels for further negotiations with the EU in the coming days.

Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday told the UK Parliament that he wanted the whole country to remain close to EU economic regulations after leaving.

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