Theresa May faces a fresh race against the clock to break the Brexit deadlock after a potential solution to the Irish border issue fell through at the eleventh hour.
The Prime Minister suffered a major setback late on Monday after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to back an arrangement to shift the customs border in Northern Ireland to the Irish Sea.
The DUP’s support is key because of the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement which is keeping May in power after she lost her Parliamentary majority in June’s election.
DUP leader Arlene Foster informed May of her party’s opposition to the arrangements midway through the latter’s meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday.
This invalidated an announcement made by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said a deal had been agreed by the EU, UK, and the Republic of Ireland.
A DUP source told Sky News that the party did not see the text of the Brussels agreement before it was presented to the EU.
May is expected to speak with Foster by telephone on Tuesday and will return to Brussels at the end of the week to attempt to convince EU leaders “sufficient progress” has been made to progress the negotiations.
The Prime Minister has said she remains confident of getting the green light to talk about trade at the summit next week.