Britain and European Union reach Brexit divorce deal: European Union commission

[WATCH] Brexit breakthrough: 'in the best interest for the whole of the UK', says May

[WATCH] Brexit breakthrough: 'in the best interest for the whole of the UK', says May

On Monday Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party objected to draft plans drawn up by the United Kingdom and the EU.

But Mr Grayling, a key Leave campaigner in the 2016 referendum, said: "We don't have to have, and we've never said we will, and we don't want, to have a situation where in future our laws are identical to the European Union".

"So far no white smoke".

Downing Street said Mrs May told Mr Varadkar she was "working hard to find a specific solution to the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland" and was committed to "moving together to achieve a positive result on this".

But Ireland's demands that Brexit should not lead to the return of checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland, which it said could jeopardise the peace process in the north, proved the biggest stumbling block at the end.

Juncker told reporters Friday that "I believe that we have now made the breakthrough that we needed".

Michel Barnier put pressure on the Prime Minister by insisting diplomats of the 27 member states must sign off any potential agreement on Friday, if the talks are to move onto trade at a summit next week.

[WATCH] Brexit breakthrough: 'in the best interest for the whole of the UK', says May

The Irish government is clear: it will not accept a hard border.

He added: "I remain absolutely optimistic that we will reach a successful point, we will move on to the trade talks, because ultimately it is in everybody's interests for that to happen".

The European Commission said it "recommends sufficient progress" had been made by Britain on separation issues including the Irish border, Britain's divorce bill, and citizens rights.

On Wednesday the Republic of Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he expected Theresa May to come up with a new wording aimed at satisfying all parties, adding: "I expressed my willingness to consider that".

Phase two of the Brexit talks will focus on the transitional arrangements that will kick in after the UK formally leaves the EU in 2019 and the future EU-UK trading relationship.

Mrs May would likely go back to discussions with the DUP but with 27 other European Union countries needing to sign off on "sufficient progress", the deadline may fall before the Council on Thursday.

Scotland's nationalist leader showed little patience, accusing the British government of being "totally and utterly incompetent" on Brexit.