It comes hours after the UK’s Brexit negotiators rejected the European Union’s latest withdrawal agreement offer, which would potential split the UK down the Irish Sea. The leader of the House of Commons said on Saturday: “There is still hope but I have to stay I’m deeply disappointed with what we are hearing coming out of the EU. “I do have to ask myself what game are they playing here.”
EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday he offered Britain a unilateral exit from the Irish backstop.
Mr Barnier said the UK Government was offered an opportunity to partially quit the mechanism to avoid a hard border on Ireland.
The French eurocrat told EU27 ambassadors at a secret meeting in Brussels Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was offered a fresh compromise in a bid to save Theresa May’s doomed Brexit deal.
However, it was made clear by Mr Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay that Brussels’ offer was unacceptable.
A British source told Express.co.uk: “We have previously rejected any offer that would see a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Mr Barclay added: “With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments.”
Mr Barnier told the meeting he offered Britain the chance of a “unilateral exit clause from Single Customs Territory while maintaining the other elements of the backstop”.
This proposal gives Britain the chance to leave the full UK-wide customs union element of the Irish backstop and return to the Northern Ireland-only arrangement.
This idea was previously ditched in November.
The backstop solution aims to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It has a been a thorn in the side of negotiators and lawmakers because it could lead to customs checks within the UK – something No 10 is striving to avoid.
Parliament is set to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time on Tuesday.
if it fails again, the PM has said MPs will vote on Wednesday or Thursday on whether they want to leave the EU without a deal or to ask for an extension of article 50.