16:10 GMT +318 November 2018
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    The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt addresses the European Parliament after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented a white paper in Brussels.

    EU Brexit Official Rejects PM May's Assessment of Talks Progress

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    The senior eurocrat’s comments on the progress of Brexit negotiations follow UK Prime Minister Theresa May claiming talks are 95 percent complete.

    Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, on Wednesday insisted that negotiations are “zero percent done” until a comprehensive solution to the Irish border is agreed.

    Rejecting the UK prime minister’s estimation, Verhofstadt said “Progress on the Brexit negotiations can be 90 per cent, 95 per cent or even 99 per cent.”

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    “But as long as there is no solution for the Irish border, as long as the Good Friday agreement is not fully secured, for us in our parliament progress is zero per cent,” he added.

    The Irish border has proven to be a major stumbling block in withdrawal negotiations, with both sides struggling to find an acceptable solution that does not undermine the Good Friday Agreement and prevents a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain coming into effect. 

    The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a key government ally, has warned it would oppose a deal presented to parliament if it risks “annexing” Northern Ireland from the UK, underscoring the need for negotiators to prevent the creation of a post-Brexit hard border.

    With the Brexit deadline fast approaching and a solution yet to be found, the British government is reportedly considering extending the transition period or potentially creating some sort of customs union with the bloc – a move which is likely to be opposed by hardline Brexiteers in the ruling Tory Party and beyond.

    Meanwhile, there is growing support for a second referendum, with hundreds of thousands of protestors taking to the streets of London over the weekend to pressure the government into holding a fresh vote.

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    Tags:
    negotiations, protest, Brexit, UK Government, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), European Union, Guy Verhofstadt, Theresa May, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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