There's speculation that the European Union and the UK government may be close to securing a deal over Brexit. Marathon talks went on into the early hours of Wednesday morning. The discussions have centred on the issue of the Irish border and the Customs Union.
Brexit is expected to be the central theme of the EU Summit which begins on Thursday, just two weeks ahead of the UK's scheduled departure from the bloc.
Some EU diplomats and officials are suggesting that the UK government is proposing that Northern Ireland stays in the UK customs area, but that EU tariffs are applied on all goods crossing from mainland Britain to the island.
However, asked if the Democratic Unionist Party could support an arrangement where Northern Ireland would stay in the UK customs territory but essentially adhere to the EU customs rules on tariffs, the party’s leader Arlene Foster didn’t believe it was possible:
“We would have no say in those tariffs and in relation to how those tariffs are set. We want to get a deal but it has to be a deal that respects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and that means all of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland included.
Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, a Eurosceptic thinktank, told Euronews' Good Morning Europe that he didn’t believe the proposal would work:
“To have an integral part of the UK somehow hived off, a border put into the Irish Sea, that is an extreme position. That separates Northern Ireland from the rest of mainland Britain.”