Brussels will wait until Sunday for Theresa May to put forward Brexit proposal

Catherine Neilan
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May has been given a lifeline (Source: Getty)

The European Commission has signalled that it is willing to relax its self-imposed deadline of tomorrow in order for Theresa May to broker an agreement on the Irish border.

Brussels had been insisting that any Brexit offer - which must include a proposal for how the border would be managed after the UK leaves the EU - be brought to the table by Friday, in order for member states to have time to go through it ahead of next Thursday's European Council.

But today the Commission's spokesman Margaritis Schinas indicated that window could be pushed - albeit slightly - as there was no "white smoke" on the deal yet.

While insisting a deal must be put forward this week, Schinas told reporters: "Our week includes Sunday."

The deadline cannot be extended further than that as officials will meet to plan the European Council summit on Monday.

But this will give May some breathing space after yesterday's phone call with DUP leader Arlene Foster failed to break the deadlock.

A government spokesman this morning could not confirm whether Foster would be coming to London, or when May planned to return to Brussels, repeating the Prime Minister's words from yesterday that there was "more work to be done".

He added that the government had "always been working towards the European Council".

Downing Street had been hopeful that the deal could be in place by now.

A proposal of "regulatory alignment" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland was thrown out by the DUP at the last minute, upsetting London, Brussels and Dublin's hopes of breaking the impasse.

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