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Irish border key to UK’s post-Brexit future

European Council President Donald Tusk has given the British government until Monday to make a final offer to avoid a hard border on the island.

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Irish border key to UK’s post-Brexit future

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The EU will refuse Britain’s demand for talks on a post-Brexit transition and future trade pact if Ireland is not satisfied with proposed border arrangements with Northern Ireland, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday.

Point of view

"Let me say very clearly: If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand."

Donald Tusk European Council President

Tusk, who will chair a crunch summit of European Union leaders on the issue in two weeks, was speaking to reporters after meeting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin.

"Before proposing guidelines on transition and future relations to the leaders, I will consult the Taoiseach (Varadkar) if the UK offer is sufficient for the Irish government," Tusk said.

"Let me say very clearly: If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand," he said.

"This is why the key to the UK’s future lies - in some ways - in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue."

Varadkar said that while progress on the border issue had been made, the next few days would be crucial and that Ireland would not be afraid to use its veto if necessary.

“It (the UK) must offer credible, concrete and workable solutions that guarantee that there will be no hard border, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, and whatever the future relationship between the EU and the UK is," he said.

The Irish border - and almost 500 kilometre line straddling Northern Ireland in the UK, and the Republic of Ireland in the EU - is now the last major hurdle in the Brexit talks.

Tusk has given the British government until Monday to make a final offer on the issue.

"The UK started Brexit, and now it is their responsibility to propose a credible commitment to do what is necessary to avoid a hard border," he said.