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December 10 2017 2:30 AM
A row has broken out over claims UK Prime Minister Theresa May's aides told her senior ministers that the key concession used to seal last week's Brexit deal was "meaningless" and "not binding" and only included to get Ireland to approve it.
A senior UK Eurosceptic with knowledge of the discussions involving UK ministers, including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, told the Sunday Telegraph that Downing Street had said a commitment to "full alignment" between Britain and the EU "doesn't mean anything in EU law".
A separate source told the Sunday Telegraph that a specific British cabinet minister had been told by May's aides that the provision was "meaningless" and was simply included to secure Ireland's approval for the document.
The claims threaten to unravel the apparent consensus over the deal ahead of the key meeting of the European Council this week, at which EU leaders will be asked to confirm that negotiations can now proceed to trade talks.
Last night, a Downing Street spokesman said: "We do not recognise this account of conversations."