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Ireland’s Leader: Brexit talks close to a deal

The United Kingdom and the European Union are inching towards concluding talks on revising post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, Ireland’s prime minister has said. Momentum has been building for weeks towards a deal to ease checks on trade that were introduced under the Northern Ireland Protocol – the arrangements agreed to avoid a hard border with EU member Ireland when the United Kingdom exited the EU in 2020. The Associated Press has the story:

Ireland’s Leader: Brexit talks close to a deal

Newslooks- LONDON (AP)

Ireland’s prime minister said Saturday that the U.K. and the European Union are “inching” closer to agreeing on a deal to resolve a thorny post-Brexit dispute in Northern Ireland.

Leo Varadkar told reporters that he believed an agreement may be possible within days. His comments came amid intense speculation that a breakthrough on months-long wrangling over the trading arrangements, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, is imminent.

“Certainly the deal isn’t done yet,” Varadkar told broadcaster RTE. ”But I do think we are inching towards conclusion.”

“I would just encourage everyone to go the extra mile to come to an agreement because the benefits are huge,” he added.

The U.K. and the EU have been at loggerheads over Northern Ireland — the only part of the U.K. that shares a border with an EU member, the Republic of Ireland — since the U.K.’s exit from the trade bloc became final in 2020.

When the U.K. left the bloc, the two sides agreed to keep the Irish border free of customs posts and other checks because an open border is a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Under the agreement, there are checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. That angered British unionist politicians, who insist that the new trade border undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government has been nonfunctional since the Democratic Unionist Party walked out a year ago in protest. The party has insisted that the protocol must be scrapped or substantially changed.

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