Published: Tue, November 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

The Sunday Times reported that the EU would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union that would avoid the need for a Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

David Davis pointed out that Britain's attorney general Geoffrey Cox reportedly said that "any Northern Ireland-only arrangements for customs after Brexit could mean the Province was "torn out of the UK" and leave it "controlled by the EU".

Asked about the government's position on the Irish backstop, the spokesman said: "The position that we have set out is we don't want the backstop to be in place indefinitely and we will be looking to a mechanism to achieve that".

But while Brussels has also made some concessions on a potential review mechanism, it insists that Britain can not have a unilateral ability to abandon the backstop.

She said: "The red lines are very clear".

Downing Street has called the reports speculation, but also claim that the majority of the UK's Brexit plan had already been agreed.

The conversation followed a report that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the Irish backstop after just three months.

"In March the United Kingdom agreed this backstop will apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminates any need for border infrastructure or related checks and controls".

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, a leading member of the European Research Group of hardline Tory MPs, said that EU withdrawal must mean departure from the customs union "in a timely way".

In a letter to Mrs May they say Parliament should not be bound by the 2016 vote any more than it should be by the 1975 referendum that took Britain into the European Union, especially when there are question marks over its validity.

"Obviously still having this issue in relation to the insurance arrangements for Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that very much remains our focus and attention in getting that deal".

The proposal was branded a "major breach of faith" by Chairman of the European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, who told the Mail on Sunday: "I am assuming the Government will stick to its manifesto commitment to leaving the customs union when we leave the EU".

The UK government has rejected that as a threat to the integrity of the UK.

However, the newspaper also reported that the new deal will include an "exit clause" created to convince those who support Brexit that remaining in the customs union is only temporary.

The online poll of 20,000 people, conducted by Survation, estimated Remain would win another in/out referendum by 54%-46% and that 105 local authority areas that voted Leave in 2016 would now be carried by the Remain side.

'So, we think there's a deal to be had if they recognise that the deal is unacceptable to Parliament, I think that opens up a vista of the opportunity of the real negotiations'.

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