Monday, 10 December, 2018

UK Cabinet Shown Brexit Deal Text as Talks Near Endgame

UK PM May dives into flurry of diplomacy in bid to clinch Brexit deal Liam Fox: UK must be able to withdraw from Irish backstop
Deanna Wagner | 10 November, 2018, 18:27

Mrs May has previously insisted no United Kingdom prime minister could ever agree to such proposals.

Mrs May needs the ten DUP votes to help get her Brexit plan through the Commons.

Fox rejected the idea that the backstop could be ended by mutual agreement with the European Union, telling reporters that Britain could not "sub contract" the decision to the other side.

The concerns focus on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's advice on how an exit from the backstop could be found to make sure the United Kingdom is not permanently kept within a customs union, which would severely curtail its ability to strike worldwide free trade deals - a key prize for Brexiteers.

But Brussels appears set to insist on a Northern Ireland-only "backstop to the backstop" in case negotiations on a wider United Kingdom approach break down.

Britain wants a Brexit agreement by the end of November and Prime Minister Theresa May would give a speech on 19 November saying she had delivered on the referendum with a deal which brings the country back together, the BBC reported on Tuesday (6 November), writes Costas Pitas.

May's Cabinet has been inching closer to agreeing a common stance on the key issue - maintaining an open border between European Union member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the EU.

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However, Brussels has demanded an insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's letter sets out her commitment, which she has been absolutely clear about on any number of occasions, to never accepting any circumstances in which the United Kingdom is divided into two customs territories".

She told her cabinet that more time was needed to clear the final hurdle standing between her and a deal on the terms of Britain's withdrawal: the plan to ensure no hard border emerges between Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland after Brexit.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mrs May's effective deputy prime minister David Lidington and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley will attend a summit on the Isle of Man on Friday.

The European elections will be the first of the post-Brexit era.

Senior ministers have been invited into a private reading room in a building adjoining May's offices to examine the 95 percent of the withdrawal package that's been agreed so far, according to people familiar with the matter.

A UK-wide customs deal would maintain quota-free and tariff-free access to European markets for the British fishing industry and in return the EU wants to keep continued access to United Kingdom waters for its trawlers, the newspaper said.