Prime Minister Theresa May has said the details of the Irish border in the Brexit talks will only be fully dealt with in phase two of the process.

Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons was dominated by Brexit, the Irish border and the DUP’s role.

It comes after a bruising couple of days for the Prime Minister who was forced to call off a deal with the EU on progressing talks to trade issues following an intervention by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

The DUP has said it can not accept a general regulatory divergence from the rest of the UK for Northern Ireland.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn put it to Mrs May there were “1.5billion reasons” why she should have shared the details of the Irish border plan with the DUP saying the Northern Ireland party was “clearly ruling the roost”.

In response the Prime Minister said progress in the talks had been good and they were working on a text about that progress for the EU Commission to determine if they could move on to the next phase, adding “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

She said the government was committed to getting a deal in the best interests of the UK and ensuring there was no hard border on the island of Ireland, stating the entire UK would be leaving the EU and its single market and customs union as one.

To howls of “how” from the Labour benches, she responded: “That’s the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations, because we will deliver this, we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“And we can only talk about that when we get into phase two.”

She joked the only hard border was “down the middle of the Labour party”.

“The only thing we know the Labour party is planning on is for a run on the pound.”

Meanwhile, in the Dail, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the DUP did not represent everybody in Northern Ireland.

“We need to bear in mind that there are a lot of different voices in Northern Ireland; we need to listen to them all, and all parties in Northern Ireland, not just one.”

He said it was the ambition and wish of his Government to begin phase two of the UK-EU talks to address post-Brexit trade and acknowledged it was in the Republic’s own interest.

“We want to move to phase two but if it is not possible to move to phase two next week then we can pick it up in the new year.”

He added that he stood by the text of a draft deal “agreed” on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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