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UK will not agree Brexit deal at any cost: May

AFP  |  London 

The raced Tuesday to build on a chance of a compromise on Northern Ireland, but promised her fractious party she would not strike a deal with the EU "at any cost".

Negotiations have stepped up with as seeks a divorce agreement within weeks, to allow time for it to be passed by parliament before day on March 29, 2019.

The opened the door on Monday to a possible concession on the final sticking point -- how to avoid border checks between British and the Republic of

But British eurosceptics fear May is planning to give too much ground, and her Northern Irish allies warned that unless the EU moved further, Britain could leave with no deal at all.

At a weekly cabinet meeting, May told ministers she expected an agreement and wanted it as soon as possible -- but it would "not be done at any cost", according to her

"We will need to be satisfied in the negotiations that we have achieved the best deal that we possibly can for the UK," he said.

Meanwhile the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told reporters in that "we are not there yet". Earlier Tuesday he told Belgian television RTBF that, as of that moment, there remained "a real point of divergence" on the Irish issue.

Britain has indicated it is seeking a deal before the end of November, although one admitted Tuesday that "it would be a stretch".

The talks are stuck on the details of a "backstop" arrangement to avoid checks on goods crossing the Irish border until a new trade deal can be signed.

suggests Britain could temporarily stay aligned with the bloc's trade rules but wants to reserve the right to exit the arrangement.

In a phone call with May on Monday, Irish said he would consider a "review mechanism" for the backstop.

But he rejected the idea Britain could unilaterally end the arrangement, and other eurosceptics in May's want.

Jeffrey Donaldson, an from Northern Ireland's (DUP), whose support props up May's government, said Dublin's refusal to budge could scupper a deal.

"Looks like we're heading for no deal," he wrote on Twitter, adding: "Can't understand why seems so intent on this course." May's said ministers agreed at cabinet on the need for an "effective mechanism" within the backstop to ensure "that the UK cannot be held in the arrangement indefinitely".

Work is continuing on this, he said, adding: "Don't be under any illusions that there remains a significant amount of work to do.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 07 2018. 01:05 IST