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Britain Confident of Brexit Deal as May Scrambles to Win Over Northern Irish Kingmakers

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Number 10 to greet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Downing Street on December 5, 2017 in London, England. (Getty)

Reuters: Britain said it was confident of a deal on Brexit just hours after a tentative agreement with the European Union over the Irish border was dashed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s kingmakers in Belfast.

After a tumultuous day which saw a choreographed attempt to showcase the progress of Brexit talks thwarted at the last minute, May will try to gauge on Tuesday what her supporters in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) might accept.

May, who is now scrambling to thrash out a deal with the EU while keeping the DUP, which props up her minority government, and her own party onside, may return to Brussels as early as Wednesday to continue talks, a Downing Street official said.

“We’re very confident that we will be able to move this forward,” finance minister Philip Hammond said as he arrived for a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels.

“Discussions are going on right now and will go on throughout the day,” Hammond said.

A European Commission spokesman said it was ready to resume Brexit negotiations as soon as London signals it is ready. Brexit minister David Davis will respond in parliament to an urgent question on the negotiations from the opposition Labour party at 1230 GMT.

May wants the EU to open the so-called second phase of Brexit negotiations, about the trading relationship after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal at 2300 GMT on March 29, 2019.

But the EU will only move to trade talks if there is enough progress on three key issues: the money Britain must pay to the EU; rights for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU; and how to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

Sterling fell by a cent against the dollar on Monday after hopes of a deal were disappointed and was a further 0.5 percent lower at $1.3414 on Tuesday.

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