'Deadline of deadlines' in Brexit divorce talks this week

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Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday the government would give more details about how to preserve and protect the United Kingdom's internal market in the second phase of Brexit talks.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk pose ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017.

"The PM said intensive work had been taking place in recent weeks and the United Kingdom and European Commission were very close to getting agreement with only a small number of issues outstanding", the spokesman said.

In Germany, Stefanie Bolzen and Hannelore Crolly of the centre-right Die Welt say events have "taken a risky turn" for Mrs May, despite EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's insistence that the talks were "not a failure". The less time they have to digest Tusk's draft negotiating guidelines, the shorter and less detailed those are likely to be, said European Union officials who expect a further more detailed set of guidelines to be prepared later.

"We're not quite yet where we need to be". The other 27 have held a common front on making Britain pay for past commitments, but all have varying interests in a trade deal and so will want time to ensure the guidelines defend their own positions.

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With significant headway apparently made on the financial settlement and European Union citizens' rights, a deal on the Irish border appears to be the main hurdle in the talks.

With the clock ticking down to the March 2019 exit date, May is under pressure to start talks on its future trade ties by the end of the year to remove the cloud of uncertainty for companies that do business in the EU.

The party opposed the agreement because it said it wanted no "regulatory divergence" between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

"We are at the point of progressing to the next stage", Mrs May told parliament, after Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) blocked a proposed agreement on the Irish border being discussed in Brussels on Monday.

"Hopefully we'll find a way forward today", he said. Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said on Sunday his country had "no desire" to delay the UK's Brexit talks, although not enough progress had been made so far.

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