United Kingdom still negotiating with European Union over Brexit backstop , says May's spokeswoman

Ivan Schwartz
May 18, 2018

The customs partnership is despised by Brexit hardliners such as foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who denounced it last week as "crazy".

Around 150 MPs attended the meeting where the plans for the border were outlined.

The tariffs govern the duties levied on goods arriving in the customs union, the EU's trading bloc, which Britain is now a member of.

Iain Duncan Smith said Eurosceptic MPs could accept a delay of "a month or two" for practical reasons - but making provision for it now was akin to "planning for failure".

However, Eurosceptics have raised concerns that it could lead to Britain being tied to the customs union indefinitely.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the Tory leader's comments reflected the "changing constitutional landscape" after the Brexit vote.

Under the plan reported in The Times and The Telegraph, the government's new "backstop" would see the whole country remain aligned with the EU. Hardliners insist that a so-called "Max-Fac" (Maximum Facilitation) scenario is still possible, in which Ireland will have a seamless border with cameras alone. However, Mr Davis was reassured after securing improvements, while other Eurosceptics eventually made a decision to "swallow" the proposed backstop. This was especially important in the case of animals for the agriculture industry as the EU's single market needed to be protected against potential diseases coming from countries that the United Kingdom is dealing with.

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The European council president, Donald Tusk, is also due to meet the prime minister in Sofia. But all problems are not magicked away.

The move is created to placate Dublin and Brussels, which have warned they will block a trade deal unless Britain guarantees there will be no "hard border" in Ireland. So, if Theresa May were to opt for a soft brexit, what would the options be?

He added it was an "absolute red line" for the island of Ireland not to have a hard border and all 27 remaining European Union states supported the current "backstop" proposal in the Withdrawal Agreement, which Mrs May has said no British prime minister could accept.

Downing Street has announced that the Prime Minister confirmed to her Cabinet that the Government is producing a white paper on its proposed future relationship with the EU.

She said these were that Britain should have its own trade policy with the rest of the world, should have frictionless trade with the European Union and that there be no "hard border" with Ireland.

The EU says this schedule is coming under pressure as there has been not enough progress in the negotiations in recent months, most importantly on how to avoid physical controls on the border between the Irish Republic and the Northern Ireland. The EU position seems to be that whilst permanent alignment with EU regulations and the external tariff would be welcome, a short term fudge would not.

The EU had warned Mrs May that Britain would have to request an extension to all elements of the transition period if it needed more time to implement a long-term customs deal.

Other reports by GizPress

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