BREXIT BOMBSHELL: UK to be trapped in EU customs union – May DROPS key demand

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Posted on Oct 19 2018 - 11:28pm by admin

Mrs May is ready to give ground on one of the key sticking areas of the talks concerning the land border between the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to Bloomberg.

Sterling gained on the report that Britain would allow the Northern Ireland backstop, or fallback arrangement in case of failure to agree a broader deal, to have no fixed time limit.

The climbdown could see the Prime Ministe accept a watered down version of Brexit to solve the Irish border dilemma and strike a deal with the EU before Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 2019, according to sources.

READ MORE: BREXIT LIVE: ‘Wrap this up by NOVEMBER – EU must commit’ May’s warning shot to Brussels

The new, not time-limited, backstop would act as an open-ended insurance policy in case a future trade deal between the UK and the EU does not avert the need for customs checks at the Irish border, one person familiar with the UK position told Bloomberg.

While the details still need to be worked out, a deal on this line is expected to be accepted by both part, other sources added. 

The decision to drop one of the key demands for a time-limited backstop for an Irish border could leave the UK bound indefinitely to the EU and subjected to Brussels’ regulations.

This version of Brexit is likely to spark outrage within Mrs May’s Cabinet and Brexiteers, who have been demanding to be freed from Brussels’ authority.

Mrs May has previously pledged Brexit would not create a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

But she also starkly dismissed the possibility to leave Northern Ireland in the customs union, effectively separating it from the rest of Great Britain. 

brexit news theresa may irish border eu uk customs union deal

Brexit news: Theresa May is to cave in to Brussels’ demands to strike a Brexit deal, sources said (Image: GETTY)

As the White Paper presented by the UK negotiators didn’t convince Brussels, the talks have been stalling for months over the problem of the border.

Mrs May’s office said in response the Government’s position had not changed, and pointed to the remarks the Prime Minister had made to businesses, where she said she expected any backstop arrangement to be temporary.

Just last week Britain’s Brexit minister, Dominic Raab said the so-called backstop designed to prevent a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would have to be short and time-limited.

Mrs May herself said any Northern Irish backstop would only be temporary earlier on Friday, during a briefing to 120 CEOs. 

Theresa May and Donald Tusk at the EU crunch summit

Theresa May and Donald Tusk at the EU crunch summit (Image: GETTY)

During a teleconference with business leaders on Friday, Mrs May also said EU politicians are committed to reaching an agreement this autumn. 

A source familiar with the content of the call told Reuters: “The prime minister spoke for about 10 minutes and the tone of her message was quite optimistic. 

Her office added Mrs May acknowledges there are still “a few significant issues” to solve. 

But they added: “The very real sense she had from leaders around the table at the Council was that they wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible this autumn.”

And one of the business people listening to the call added: “She said that her aim was to wrap this up in November.” 

Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker

Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker (Image: GETTY)

The problem of the Irish border is the last major sticking point separating the EU and the UK from striking a withdrawal deal. 

On Friday, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier told France Inter radio the deal was almost completed – but he was still not sure the EU and the UK would “get one”.

He said: “Ninety percent of the accord on the table has been agreed with Britain.

“I’m convinced a deal is necessary, I’m still not sure we’ll get one”. 

During this week’s crunch talks, the EU27 and the UK promised to intensify the negotiations. 

Theresa May briefed 120 business leaders today over Brexit

Theresa May briefed 120 business leaders today over Brexit (Image: GETTY)

However, Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, said Mrs May’s speech to the 27 didn’t bring anything new to the table. 

In his interview to France Inter radio, Mr Barnier warned the UK against leaping out of the union without a deal.

He said a no-deal Brexit “would be very serious, very difficult for all of us in the EU but much more grave for Britain”. 

Mr Barnier also branded Brexit “negative”, arguing it doesn’t bring anything positive. 

He said: “There is no added value in Brexit. It is a negative negotiation. No-one has been able to show me any added value in Brexit, not even Mr Farage, when I met him in my office at his request and I asked him ‘Show me how the decision to leave the EU provides solutions to the anxieties, discontents and sometimes the anger of the British people’.”

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