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  1. ITV Report

Prime Minister to visit Northern Ireland

Theresa May will be in NI on Tuesday. Photo:

Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Northern Ireland on Tuesday to deliver a speech on Brexit.

She will also meet with representatives of local businesses, her official spokesman said.

It's understood Ms May will use the speech to confirm her Government's "absolute commitment" to avoiding a hard border after Brexit.

The trip comes as she prepares to return to Brussels to demand the reopening of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Meanwhile Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer traveled to NI on Monday to stress that Labour accepts the principle of a backstop agreement in order to prevent a return to a hard border.

He said: "The Prime Minister has effectively run down the clock and therefore it is impossible to see a way forward without a backstop.

"So, whilst we have got concerns that we have set out about the backstop, we do accept the principle that there has got to be a backstop."

After meeting with Sir Keir, Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said it was important heard that he heard first hand "very clearly and directly" the need to protect the backstop.

She went on: "He did say in the meeting that the backstop is inevitable and that is the Labour position - it's their position because they understand the need to ensure there's no hard border on this island."

Sinn Féin will hold meetings with the PM in London on Thursday.

Meanwhile the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, said a deal is "possible but requires political will".

She said: "Our message to the Prime Minister has been consistent.

"The backstop is the problem. It drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement’s principle of consent.

"If implemented, it would build a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Such an outcome would undermine both the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

"We want an orderly exit from the European Union which works for London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels. It is possible but requires political will.

"This is not a time for intransigence. It is time to respect unionists and nationalists alike in Northern Ireland and deliver a deal which is sensible and practical."