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Germany urges UK to move in Brexit negotiations

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said the British government needs to get moving in Brexit negotiations, including on the Northern Ireland border issue.

Yesterday, Brexit minister Dominic Raab said Britain had put forward a "real offer" to a win a deal on leaving the European Union by October, suggesting the government would not shift much from its agreed negotiating stance.

But Mr Maas told the Funke group of newspapers: "In order for the departure to be carried out in as orderly a way as possible, the British government will need to move.

"On the one hand on the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and EU member the Irish Republic and secondly on the undivided internal market, where Britain cannot cherry-pick."

The status of the border is one of the main stumbling blocks in the Brexit negotiations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in principle in December to a binding "backstop" to ensure a soft border, irrespective of future EU-UK ties.

However, she later balked at an EU proposal to achieve this by treating Northern Ireland as a separate customs area to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr Maas said the time pressure was strong, adding: "But we won’t let ourselves be put under pressure. We won’t enter any deals that would be to the detriment of Europe."

Meanwhile, the UK and the EU continue their Brexit negotiations in Brussels today, with Mr Raab meeting the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The meetings come after Theresa May confirmed she had taken personal charge of the negotiations, with Mr Raab "deputising" for her in Brussels.

Mr Raab told MPs he would be going to Brussels today "striving very hard with our team to get the very best deal". He insisted the UK would not "cower in the corner" in the talks.


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