United Kingdom and European Union fail to reach Brexit deal after crunch Brussels meeting

An agreement that would commit Britain to maintaining "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit would make it easier to avoid a hard border but limit the UK's ability to change its economic regulations to strike new trade deals across the world.

The Irish prime minister said he is "surprised and disappointed" that there was no agreement in Brexit talks today.

A meeting on this with all political party leaders is set for lunchtime today.

Ms Sturgeon said on Twitter: " If one part of United Kingdom can retain regulatory alignment with European Union and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can't".

"We can not align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union", he said.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels with Mr Juncker, Mrs May said: "We have been negotiating hard".

Britain and the European Union failed to strike a Brexit divorce deal during talks in Brussels on Monday but said they were "confident" of reaching an accord later this week.

Nadine Dorries, a member of Britain's ruling Conservative Party who supports Brexit, said May should tell European Union officials time is running out to move talks on to the next phase.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar by phone.

"We had an agreement this morning", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, expressing disappointment at the last-minute glitch.

Prior to May's Brussels trip, expectations were high for breakthroughs on three major Brexit issues, namely the divorce bill, Irish border and citizen's rights.

"Not every single question has to be answered but we need sufficient progress on these very sensitive issues". But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland.

It is understood this is a sticking point in reaching a deal on post-Brexit citizens' rights, the part of the phase one divorce negotiations that had previously been considered to be the most advanced.

He added: "I still hope that this matter can be concluded in the coming days as agreed".

Ahead of the meeting, a source close to the discussions on the Irish border told Sky News: "There's been some progress on the wording from both sides, but a bit of a distance to go".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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