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Donald Tusk and Theresa May shake hands on Monday of this week. AP/PA Images
it's on

Donald Tusk to make statement on Brexit talks (very) early tomorrow morning

There’s speculation he’ll have news on the ongoing talks with Theresa May.

DONALD TUSK, THE president of the European Council, is set to make a statement early tomorrow morning on Brexit talks.

His spokesperson made the announcement today, saying that he would make a statement at 7.50am CET time, RTÉ reports. That’s 6.50am Irish time.

There’s speculation that the early time for the statement is due to the fact he may have news on his talks with Theresa May over the Northern Irish border.

May and Tusk’s talks over a deal on the border were interrupted by the DUP earlier this week, who objected to the planned wording of the text related to the issue.

The DUP and the British government were in talks again today on the issue.

Speaking last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that May had told him in a phone call that the new text would arrive by today, and that he was willing to consider it. That deal would be sent to Europe first, and then communicated to Ireland.

The Taoiseach, however, said that any new offer should not be substantially different to the one offered earlier this week.

The European Commission said this afternoon that there was still “no white smoke” on a Brexit deal and set a limit of Sunday for May to return to Brussels with an acceptable deal.

SDLP leader Column Eastwood sent a memo to Number 10 Downing Street today, warning the British Prime Minister not to isolate the majority of Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

He said:

The DUP does not speak for Northern Ireland. Nor does Mr James Brokenshire or Theresa May. Those of us, all of us with mandates, have a responsibility to the people of the North who elected us to defend their interests. That means defending the economic, social and political interests of all people here.
All of us must see the detail of the agreed the negotiating position if the DUP is to be consulted. Arlene Foster is not the First Minister of Northern Ireland. Nor is Michelle O’Neill the Joint First Minister. Both the DUP and Sinn Fein abdicated those rights when they decided to call time on the talks process.
The SDLP stands firm, we want to maintain membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. That is the only way to prevent a hard border on this Island. Instead of wheeling and dealing with the DUP – the Prime Minister must show all of us in the North the respect that we deserve.

Time is now running out for a deal on Brexit divorce terms, which would allow the opening of talks on a future trade deal at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on December 14-15.

In a statement last night, Number 10 said “the Prime Minister said how she recognised the significance of this issue to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland and how this remained a joint priority for both governments, and the EU, to resolve”.

- Additional reporting - © AFP, 2017

Read: ‘No white smoke’ as Theresa May to make fresh offer on Irish border>

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