Ministers in revolt over May’s Brexit concessions

Ministers in revolt over May’s Brexit concessions

Ministers in revolt over May’s Brexit concessions

She added: "The Prime Minister is a Unionist".

Speaking in Brussels, Barnier said a full customs union between the United Kingdom and the EU would solve the controversial Irish backstop issue as no new checks would be needed on goods crossing the border on the island.

The Irish backstop measure, created to ensure no new border emerges between Ireland and Northern Ireland, is supposed to be temporary until a UK-EU trade deal can be agreed, and Theresa May pledged earlier this year that the arrangement would expire "at the very latest by the end of December 2021".

However, the signs of unity remain elusive as there are still fundamental splits in her party over what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - which now has no checks but would require a system in place for goods check after Britain formally leaves the European Union on March 29 next year.

May has ruled out any agreement which could see customs or regulatory barriers being erected between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

The dozen delegates from Northern Ireland business also said the deal would allow Northern Ireland to continue to avail of trade deals including the recent one struck with Japan, something Britain may not be able to seal until long after 2020.

"Indeed, Northern Ireland's access to any new United Kingdom trade deals would also be regulated by Brussels".

He reiterated the EU's line welcoming May's proposals for a bold free-trade deal "without tariffs or quotas" and close security ties after Brexit.

Red lines: DUP leader Arlene Foster in Brussels. 'An bad lot depends on the talks in the coming days'. The Cabinet is unlikely to agree the new proposal on Tuesday, so the European Union summit may have to park some key issues until November.

He warned the UK's trade proposals would give its companies a "huge competitive edge" over European Union rivals.

As that departure date creeps closer, pressure on May from various directions is intensifying.

EU Brexit pointman Michel Barnier and Martin Selmayr, the powerful head of the EU Commission's bureaucracy, briefed commissioners on progress just a week before the October 18 meeting that has been dubbed a "moment of truth".

However, Conservative MP Helen Blunt said that she believed the DUP was "bluffing" about withholding its support.

By withdrawing its support, the DUP could make it hard for May to pass legislation through parliament, including the budget which will be voted on later this month. She needs to keep either her own party onside or attract votes from the main opposition Labour Party.

A functioning Northern Ireland executive could have an impact on the final terms of any Brexit deal, she emphasised.

Labour demands that Britain retain "the exact same" perks it now has within the EU's customs union and single market - something May's so-called Chequers plan does not meet and which the EU rules out since London made a decision to leave both.

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