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Pressure mounts on British PM to salvage Brexit deal

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By Seamus Kearney
Pressure mounts on British PM to salvage Brexit deal

Theresa May had a meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday but the reporters gathered for the event yelled out questions on another more pressing matter: Brexit.

The pressure is on the British Prime Minsiter to salvage a deal on the first stage of Brexit talks with Brussels, while keeping key Northern Irish ally the DUP and her own party onside.

London and Brussels appeared to come close on Monday to a deal on the terms of their divorce, including how to keep an "invisible" Irish border.

But that was torpedoed at the eleventh hour when the Democratic Unionist Party, which keeps May's government in power, refused to give its backing.

In parliament on Tuesday the opposition Labour Party repeated its call for a softer Brexit.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said: "Yesterday the rubber hit the road. Fantasy met brutal reality. 

"Labour is clear that there needs to be a UK-wide response to Brexit so the question for the government today is this: will the Prime Minister now rethink her reckless red lines and put options such as a customs union and single market back on the table for negotiation? 

"Because if the price of the prime minister's approach is the breakup of the Union and reopening of bitter divides in Northern Ireland, then the price is too high."

David Davis, Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, replied: "The suggestion that we might depart the European Union but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind still inside the single market and customs union, that is emphatically not something that the UK government is considering. 

"So when the first minister of Wales complains about it or the first minister of Scotland has a reason to start banging the tattered drum of independence, or the Mayor of London says it justifies a hard border on the M25, I say they're making a foolish mistake. 

"No UK government would allow such a thing, let alone a Conservative and Unionist one."

Euronews correspondent in Brussels Stefan Grobe reported: "The day after the collapse of the last-minute Brexit deal has seen Brussels cloaked in deafening silence: no statement, no interview from any of the major players. 

"This is a bad sign for the Brexit talks; it suggests all arguments have been voiced and there's nothing left to say. 

"All eyes on London again to meet another deadline on Friday. Theresa May needs to clean up her domestic mess, but whether she has the political stamina to do so, that is anybody's guess."