Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Former UK envoy says May's Brexit plan a 'pipe dream'

Michel Barnier Michel Barnier. Getty
Deanna Wagner | 13 October, 2018, 09:48

The DUP has been adamant that any Brexit deal cannot differentiate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The EU side has indicated progress on future management of the 500-km-long border but diplomats in Brussels signalled the lifespan of any such emergency frontier fix was still not agreed.

The experts behind the report, produced by UCL's Constitution Unit, acknowledged the prospect of a so-called People's Vote is contentious but said it would be perfectly achievable given the political will.

Speaking during an interview on Sky News, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We are confident that we will have continuity on Eurostar".

"What we can not do is see the United Kingdom locked in via the backdoor to a customs union arrangement which would leave us in an indefinite limbo - that would not be leaving the EU", he said on Friday. Negotiators are looking for creative wording to square that circle.

The future of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland has proved to be a key issue in the Brexit talks.

She added that the plan for checks on goods was "a one-way turnstile, which could restrict trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland" and said it was "the worst of one world".

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So in the coming days, when we see legal text of draft backstop and Withdrawal Agreement, this will surely be the time for Tory Brexiters to choose between supporting the PM and maintaining the fiction of party unity on the one hand and their ambitions for what the United Kingdom could and should be. Some of May's ministers have urged a time limit on that.

The DUP has stepped up warnings to Theresa May not to bow to Brussels over the Northern Ireland border as the Prime Minister briefed senior ministers on the Brexit negotiations.

The Times newspaper reported that May could face further resignations by eurosceptic ministers in her cabinet unless she found a way to ensure the backstop was not permanent.

If the electorate then opted to leave with the deal negotiated by Mrs May, the 18-month transition period keeping Britain tied to the European Union would begin in six months later than planned.

London has published more than 25 technical notices covering issues from consumer rights and sanctions policy to rail transport and taking horses overseas.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said on Thursday afternoon that the prime minister could not "in good conscience" recommend such a deal and vowed to oppose it.