Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Brexit: Theresa May meets ministers to resolve row over customs 'backstop'

Brexit: Theresa May meets ministers to resolve row over customs 'backstop'

Downing Street said the backstop plan was unlikely to be needed but this has not allayed the concerns of pro-Brexit Conservative politicians, who wanted a clear end date for the proposal. He also made clear he would not let London use an offer of special access to the European Union market for produce from Northern Ireland to secure similar terms for all British goods.

'It would, I suppose, just be possible to ask the people in a referendum if they liked the exit deal or not, ' he said.

In an open letter to voters, Best For Britain warned that there was a danger of the political establishment "sleepwalking the country over the Brexit finish line" in March without any clarity over whether the deal will be good for the UK.

Brussels has offered to keep the province effectively inside the European Union single market for goods.

"The UK is clear that the future customs arrangement needs to deliver on the commitments made in relation to Northern Ireland". The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, said in early June that she would withdraw her support to May's government "if Northern Ireland was treated differently from the rest of the UK" after Brexit. Those may concern the United Kingdom contribution to the new EU budget and the supervision of the arrangement by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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Eight out of 10 Protestants described themselves as British or Northern Irish, while nine out of 10 Catholics defined themselves as Irish.

Theresa May has insisted the backstop customs proposal which triggered a Cabinet row would be time-limited - but refused to give a guarantee that it would not extend beyond December 2021.

Brexit talks have been stalled in Brussels over the question of how to avoid a hard border at the Irish frontier.

Mr Davis made it clear the document would be "decisive" as he said he planned to meet chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier again for Brexit talks next week.

The EU backstop option has been rightly criticised for reducing the single market "access of Northern Ireland to ... goods, including agricultural and electricity". "I won't let myself by intimidated by this form of blame game".

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They are wary of the secrecy and implications of the prime minister's plan for the "Irish backstop" - the agreement suggested in December to come up with a way to protect current border arrangements with Ireland. "What is feasible for a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible for the whole United Kingdom".

May last month proposed a UK-EU "customs partnership", a hybrid solution allowing the UK to remain in the EU customs union while being able to independently trade with other countries outside the bloc.

Barnier said the two sides had made progress but that a lot remains to be done, particularly on three subjects which, he said, were "very serious for business and citizens".

Barnier did not rule out a deal on continued membership of the customs union.

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