Simon Coveney and Michel Barnier discuss Irish border

Simon Coveney and Michel Barnier discuss Irish border

At a summit dinner tonight, British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to sell her Chequers plan for post-Brexit co-operation with the European Union to the bloc's 27 other leaders.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the National Housing Summit in London, September 19, 2018.

But Tusk was clear - her customs proposals and those aimed at preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland would have to be reworked. It's the first full gathering of the EU28 since May unveiled her Chequers plan - named after her country residence where it was presented to ministers - in July.

Britain has been told it must "rework" its proposals on the Irish border as the Brexit negotiations enter a "decisive phase".

"Various scenarios are still possible today but I would like to stress that some of Prime Minister May's proposals from Chequers indicate a positive evolution in the UK's approach, as well as the will to minimise the negative effects of Brexit".

The EU's chief negotiator said yesterday that the EU was preparing to table a new "backstop" proposal that he hoped the government would be able to support.

His comments came as European Union leaders prepare to gather in Salzburg today for a summit - the first time they have met together since Mrs May published her Chequers blueprint for Brexit in July.

Writing in Germany's Die Welt, May said the two sides were "near to achieving the orderly withdrawal that is an essential basis for building a close future partnership".

Recent signals from Brussels have buoyed hopes that the United Kingdom and the European Union can agree and approve a proper divorce arrangement before it leaves, though the sides are still divided on about one fifth of the detail of a deal.

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"With goodwill and determination on both sides we can avoid a disorderly exit and find new ways of working together".

But if Mr Barnier is right about October, then the next four weeks will determine Britain's future for a generation and tonight's cordon bleu dinner will be the most important of Mrs May's life.

Tusk confirmed there would be a special European summit in November, which is meant to be when Brexit negotiations end, and tried to add a note of urgency in conclusion, saying: "There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks".

However Mrs May has rejected the plan as unacceptable arguing that it would effectively create a border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. "We have nothing on Ireland", Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister, told Reuters.

"So Michel Barnier says he can do different kinds of checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as if that makes it more palatable,"said Mr Dodds".

"No. It is a set of technical controls and checks, a lot of which, most, can be put in place and carried out in places other than physically in Northern Ireland", Barnier said.

But EU officials are also minded not to paint May into a corner, aware that she faces increasing opposition to her plans in her Conservative Party and needs a victory of sorts to try to persuade a reluctant parliament to back a deal.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a former head of the diplomatic service, made the comments as the People's Vote campaign released a roadmap to a second referendum.

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