Britain and the European Union made a significant breakthrough Friday in Brexit talks, after a flurry of overnight telephone calls between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish and EU leaders bridged differences over Irish borders.
Border quandary Britain agreed to pay a divorce settlement amounting to between €45bn and €55bn and to protect the rights of some three million European citizens living there after Brexit as part of the deal. British factions have squabbled about how to preserve the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which depends on a borderless passage between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as Britain seeks new trade independence that would typically require a border.
The pound dipped against the dollar immediately following the European Commission's announcement that "sufficient progress" has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks, before recovering some of its poise. Currency traders are taking a bet that this is the case. Business leaders warn further delays will hurt companies as they plan for the future.
Talks have been continuing since then to try to resolve the dispute so that European Union leaders will agree at a summit next Friday, December 15, to open talks on future trade.
She must also convince her divided Conservative Party that the deal she makes is acceptable.
"We want to work with them on that, and not against them".
The EU has already started mapping out what it intends to put on the table - a deal along the lines of the one it offered Canada.
Mrs May has got the deal that she needed - and the agreement that businesses were clamouring for. Amid off-and-on threats to oust her, failure to move talks along could have cost May her job and brought more instability.
And in a concession that is exercising several leading Brexiteers, including Iain Duncan Smith, the draft reports that the United Kingdom has also "accepted the competence of the (European Court of Justice) in relation to the interpretation of the Withdrawal Treaty".
She was in Brussels about to agree to outline divorce terms on Britain's withdrawal on Monday, December 4, when she was interrupted by objections from her Northern Irish allies to a planned wording on the Irish border.