Brexit talks broke up in Brussels without a deal this afternoon, after a proposed solution for the Irish border met fierce resistance from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The Ireland border remains the key stumbling block in the way of Brexit talks proceeding to the next stage.
And the debate appears to be a total mess, with EU diplomats saying no one knows what is happening while the UK is still waiting for “internal politics to play out”.
Now one journalist has revealed the exact wording of the proposed deal that fell flat on its face today – and it seems the agreement is even more of a mess than initially thought.
Bruno Waterfield, the Times Brussels’ reporter, reported the deal reads: “In absence of agreed solutions UK will ensure that there is continued regulatory alignment from those rules of internal market and customs union which, now or in the future, support North South co-operation and protection of the Good Friday agreement.”
However it is not even remotely clear what this actually means – or whether this is even legally enforceable.
Discussions are set to resume later this week, with both Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declaring themselves “confident” a solution can be found in time for a key summit of the European Council on December 14.
Mrs May began her lunchtime meeting with the Commission president with hopes high that Brussels would be able to declare that sufficient progress had been made on the so-called “divorce issues” in order to allow the leaders of the remaining 27 EU nations to give the green light for trade talks to begin next week.
But reports Mrs May was on the verge of agreeing a deal on “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland the Republic led the DUP to warn it would not back any agreement which threatened the territorial integrity of the UK.
And at the last minute, Mrs may was forced to ask Brussels for “more time” as she tries to thrash out some agreement wth the DUP without losing their support as the Northern Ireland party continues to prop up her Government.
Speaking after their meeting, Mr Juncker was forced to admit there has been no agreement on the Brexit “divorce deal”.
But the Prime Minister said she was “confident we will conclude this positively”.
She said: “We have had a constructive meeting today. Both sides have been working hard in good faith.
“We have been negotiating hard. And a lot of progress has been made. And on many of the issues there is a common understanding.
“And it is clear, crucially, that we want to move forward together. But on a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation.
“And those will continue, but we will reconvene before the end of the week and I am also confident that we will conclude this positively.”