The UK has reportedly secured 'secret' Brexit concessions

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Image Leo Varadkar is seeking a guarantee that there will be no return of a hard border

He replied: "Well, we want to get that deal, we're obviously working hard to see that that happens".

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has urged the Irish premier to stand firm over a proposed backstop plan to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

An all-UK customs deal could be written into the withdrawal agreement, avoiding the need for a "backstop" for Northern Ireland.

The EU agreed to a compromise on the backstop agreement to keep the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland last week, signalling they would accept keeping the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union until both sides sign up to a deal that would prevent the need for a hard border.

"The prime minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop", it said.

Theresa May called the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar this morning to discuss how the backstop solution to the Northern Ireland border would work.

Theresa May has apparently worked out a secret deal with Brussels which will keep the United Kingdom in a temporary customs union with the EU.

A spokesperson for Number 10 Downing Street described the reports as "speculation".

"The Democratic Unionist Party is rightly anxious about the future of the Union and many Conservatives are too".

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In other developments on Brexit yesterday, the former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said that negotiations were ongoing, amid reports that major concessions had been made by Brussels.

May is also understood to be close to a political deal on a future economic partnership (FEP) with Brussels that would give Britain the green light to pursue a free trade deal similar to Canada. Appears any old deal now better than no deal'.

A Downing Street spokeswoman added: "The prime minister is clear we are leaving the customs union".

In practice, the backstop will only take effect if trade talks between the United Kingdom and European Union fail to produce a deal deep and comprehensive enough to avoid any checks on the Irish border.

A spokesman for Ireland's Tanaiste Simon Coveney said: "The UK has given written commitments last December and March that the Withdrawal Agreement will include a legal guarantee of no return to a hard border in Ireland in any circumstance. I certainly hope we are".

May is under intense pressure from several members of her cabinet to secure a mechanism by which any backstop agreements can be time limited and able to be terminated by the UK.

Hopes that a deal could be struck as early as next week have faded because of the continuing clash between London and Brussels over the future status of the Irish border.

Chief Executives from Waterstones, Innocent Drinks and Lastminute.com stated that the United Kingdom faces either a "blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit" in the note.

Theresa May will be able to persuade her Cabinet to support her preferred Brexit deal - but only after more of her ministers resign, according to a government source.

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