EU brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he stressed the need for a binding deal to avoid a disruptive EU border for northern Ireland when he met leading politicians from the British province.

He tweeted that he had met leaders or deputy leaders from four parties to discuss the ongoing brexit negotiations and the importance of a legally operative backstop for Northern Ireland.

Barnier is due to meet senior figures from the biggest party, the democratic unionists, on Tuesday. The dup, allies of British Prime Minister Theresa May, strongly oppose Barnier’s current proposals for a “backstop” that would apply EU rules to Northern Ireland but not to the British mainland in the event that London and Brussels fail to agree a post-brexit free trade deal that would ensure minimal border checks in Ireland.

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