Tusk threat to ‘freeze’ Brexit talks until Irish get deal

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European Council president Donald Tusk has threatened to freeze Brexit talks, insisting that the sequence of negotiations must be “Ireland first”.

Britain has so far failed to bring forward “specific and realistic” alternative proposals to keep the Irish border open without activating the EU’s “backstop” option, he said.

After Theresa May rejected EU proposals for Northern Ireland effectively to remain in the customs union, Mr Tusk warned that progress in Brexit talks could be put at risk if there was “backsliding” on principles agreed last year.

The European Council president was speaking in Dublin after talks with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who held out hopes for an “evolution” in the UK’s position as negotiations on the future relationship get under way.