Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland cannot move on to Phase 2 of Brexit negotiations without the assurances it has been promised by Britain, in relation to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Speaking in the Dáil, he acknowledged the huge amount of work done on the proposed agreement between the British government and the EU, and said he does "very much regret" that a deal on the border was not reached yesterday.

Hopes of securing agreement on the terms of Britain's EU withdrawal were stalled yesterday when the DUP refused to accept the proposals which would have shifted Northern Ireland's customs border to the Irish Sea.

Mr Varadkar spoke of Ireland wanting to move on to Phase 2 of the negotiations, and said that the ball is now in London's court.

He said: "As things stand, the ball is very much in London's court. There is time to put this agreement back on track and we await to hear from London as soon as they're ready."

The Taoiseach said there is time to put the agreement back on track before the next European Council summit on 14 December.

He said that the Government and the parliament respects the Good Friday Agreement and the status of Northern Ireland.

He said that "we will listen to, respect and engage with all political parties in Northern Ireland."

DUP looking to have elements of border deal removed 

The Democratic Unionist Party wants elements of the proposed agreement between the British government and the EU taken off the table, a senior DUP source has indicated to RTÉ News.

The source also said there is significant support within the Conservative Party for such a view.

DUP leader Arlene Foster had the option of travelling to London for a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May today, but contacts were due to take place at a lower level.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and others among their group of ten Westminster MP's will get involved in dialogue with British government representatives.

Mrs May chaired a special cabinet meeting in Westminster today, and she is planning to return to Brussels before the end of the week.

Speaking to RTÉ News this afternoon, Ms Foster said her party cannot support Brexit legislation in the House of Commons unless the text presented yesterday is changed.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis said voters had chosen to leave the EU and that included both the single market and the customs union.

He said the British government would never allow one part of the United Kingdom to remain in the single market after Brexit though he did allow that regulatory alignment for Northern Ireland could apply to the whole of the United Kingdom.

Earlier, the European Commission said that, following the collapse in the Brexit negotiations yesterday, it shares the position of the Irish Government on how to avoid a hard border.

Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels this morning: "As far as Dublin is concerned, obviously the Irish Government has defended a position which we share, and which we attempted to assert during the ongoing negotiations."

The commission spokesman said it was up to the UK government how to proceed.

"We have a common understanding on most of the issues but there are some topics still open, which will need further consultation and negotiation, notably in London," Mr Schinas said.

"The show is now in London."

He added: "We stand ready here in the commission to resume talks with the United Kingdom at any moment in time when we get the sign that London is ready."



Mr Schinas was asked if the commission had a message for the DUP.

He replied: "Our interlocutor is her majesty's government and the prime minister of the United Kingdom."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will brief the College of Commissioners tomorrow on the state of play.

"We will discuss where we proceed from there," the spokesperson said.

Mr Schinas would not be drawn on which text will form the basis of any forthcoming discussions with the UK.

"We will not discuss any texts that have not been agreed and that have not even been seen by the College [of Commissioners]," he said.

Mr Schinas also said that the European Commission was working "with full respect for the mandate which the EU 27 gave us."

The mandate, enshrined in the Negotiating Guidelines and Negotiating Directives, makes it clear that the talks cannot move to Phase 2 until there is "sufficient progress" on how to deal with the Irish border issue, as well as the questions of EU citizens’ rights and the UK's financial settlement on leaving.

Mr Schinas confirmed that Mr Juncker had spoken to the Taoiseach both before and after the working lunch with Mrs May yesterday.

The College of Commissioners was expected to declare tomorrow whether or not "sufficient progress" had been made by the UK on the three key issues.

That opinion would then be conveyed to the European Council, which represents the 27 heads of government, and which will make the definitive decision on Phase 2 at a summit of EU leaders on 15 December.

Because of the breakdown in talks yesterday, the College of Commissioners is not expected to deliver a judgement tomorrow.

European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed that, until the surprise developments at Stormont, he had been preparing to issue new negotiating guidelines for the second phase of talks today.

It is also understood that differences also remain between the EU and Britain over the issue of European Court of Justice jurisdiction over EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit.

Mrs May insisted she was still "confident" of getting a green light for trade talks at next week's summit.