Fiji Time: 6:07 PM on Thursday 22 March

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Brexit divorce deal

Thursday, December 07, 2017

LONDON - Hours after a Brexit deal collapsed, British Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure on Tuesday from opposition parties and even some allies to soften the EU divorce by keeping Britain in the single market and customs union after Brexit.

Mrs May's ministers said they were confident they would soon secure an exit deal, though opponents scolded the prime minister for a chaotic day in Brussels which saw a choreographed attempt to showcase the progress of Brexit talks collapse at the last minute.

The Northern Irish party that props up Mrs May's minority government said it was only shown the draft of a deal promising regulatory alignment for both parts of Ireland late on Monday morning.

In a sign of just how politically precarious Mrs May's Brexit balancing act has become, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) also said it had warned Mrs May that it would not support her legislation in parliament unless the draft was changed.

The opposition Labour Party said one way for alignment of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland to become acceptable was for the whole of the United Kingdom to stay in the single market and the customs union.

"What an embarrassment — the last 24 hours have given a new meaning to the phrase 'coalition of chaos'," Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told parliament. "Yesterday, the rubber hit the road: Fantasy met brutal reality."

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