British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attend a press conference after their meeting on Brexit at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 4, 2017. Despite continuous efforts and growing common grounds of Britain and the European Union, it was not possible to reach a complete agreement Monday, said Jean-Claude Juncker in a hastily arranged press conference with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
Emergency talks are to take place between British Prime Minister Theresa May's government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after an expected agreement on Brexit negotiations collapsed Monday.
The refusal of the DUP to accept controversial cross-border proposals between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic were blamed by media on either side of the Irish Sea for crucial negotiations in Brussels coming to a halt.
May spent the day in Brussels confident that Britain and the EU would make enough progress on outstanding issues relating to future relationships between both sides after Britain leaves the bloc.
Media reports said talks over the border issue were expected in the next few days in the hope of finding a way forward ahead of next week's crucial meeting of the European Council.
The DUP has insisted that it will only agree to a deal that applies to the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, which will eventually form the only EU border within the British Isles.
The Times in London said several commentators had suggested that May was effectively conceding that Northern Ireland would remain part of the European single market and customs union when the rest of Britain leaves.
In a carefully crafted response Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, told a media briefing: "Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK and we will not accept any firm of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the UK."
The prospect some form of separate arrangements between the EU and Northern Ireland led immediately to a backlash in both Scotland and Wales.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Any special status for Northern Ireland would make a similar solution for Scotland even more vital. For Scotland to find itself outside the single market, while Northern Ireland effectively stays in would place us at a double disadvantage when it comes to jobs and investment."
In Cardiff the leader of the Welsh Assembly, Labor's Carwen Jones said the British government could not allow different parts of Britain to be more favorably treated than others.
There was also a response from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has pressed for London to remain in the EU single market and customs union.
The proposed Northern Ireland border solution, he suggested, made it possible for the British capital to also remain within the single market and customs union after Brexit.
There were also harsh words from Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Britain's main opposition Labor Party. In a statement he said the real reason for the failure of the talks was the "grubby deal May's government did with the DUP.
After May's snap general election result in June when she emerged heading a minority government, the Conservatives agreed a deal with the DUP to enable its 10 MPs to prop up government.
Corbyn said: "It is disappointing that there has not been progress in the Brexit negotiations after months of delays and grandstanding. Labor has been clear from the outset that we need a jobs first Brexit deal that works for the whole of the United Kingdom."
The Leave Means Leave also heaped more pressure on May, saying, she should not agree a deal that involves treating Northern Ireland separately to the rest of Britain.
Media reports in London said a there was hostility to separate arrangements for Northern Ireland among some Conservative MPs who gathered at Westminster for a briefing.