Theresa May secures 'secret Brexit deal to keep United Kingdom in customs union'

Ivan Schwartz
November 5, 2018

This would avoid the EU's "backstop" solution that would have treated Northern Ireland differently from the rest of Britain.

It is said that the Prime Minister hopes the agreement will placate remain-backing Tories and win over some Labour MPs.

The backstop plan enraged the DUP, which is propping up May's Conservative government at Westminster, and the PM has since said she could "not accept" any deal that would require a customs border between the North and Great Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep all of the a customs union with the European Union and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times reported, without naming sources.

They suggested that a December deal would mean not only a later parliamentary vote but would require spending on no-deal planning and changes to the roles of hundreds of civil service.

Speaking at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin, Mr Coveney said he believed "it is possible to get a deal in November", adding: "This border issue is complicated to resolve. but I think we're very close to resolving it".

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.

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But Downing Street has reportedly dismissed the report as "speculation".

According to the newspaper, May is also planning to reach an agreement on the EU-UK post-Brexit economic partnership, as she aspires to ensure free trade between London and Brussels.

The Taoiseach also said the UK's withdrawal from the bloc had undermined the historic Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland and called for a guarantee that there would be no return of a hard border with the Republic.

"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".

Source close to European Union negotiator Michel Barnier revealed that a "major concession" had been made on the Irish border during a meeting in London last week that will see regulatory checks on goods carried out at factories and shops rather than being conducted at the border.

'I am assuming the Government will stick to its manifesto commitment to leaving the customs union when we leave the EU'.

It is speculated that May is hoping for enough progress in Brexit talks this week to secure a summit later this month in which the final details of a deal will be negotiated.

Other reports by GizPress

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