Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

The Brexit figurehead was responding to reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is close to striking a deal with Brussels which would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union, avoiding the need for the Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

Theresa May has emerged from a tense Cabinet meeting this morning insisting she will not agree to a Brexit deal "at any cost", despite the clock ticking on reaching a Withdrawal Agreement. "The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

The crunch meeting comes amid mounting pressure to finalise the withdrawal agreement in order to announce the leaving terms at a special summit in November.

The challenge facing Mrs May was underlined when Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, warned that a deal on the backstop - created to avert a hard border in Ireland - was not close.

Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, told the Daily Telegraph that owners should go to the vets as soon as possible to get their pet's documents in order if they want to travel to the European Union after Brexit day at the end of next March.

May spokesperson said it was likely that a further cabinet meeting would be held before a deal was agreed, hinting that this could happen later in the week.

But the spokesman cautioned: "Don't be under any illusion, there remains a significant amount of work to do".

He told Belgian broadcaster RTBF that "there is still a real point of divergence on the way of guaranteeing peace in Ireland, that there are no borders in Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the single market".

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Her phone call to Dublin came after Mr Varadkar said a backstop with a three-month time limit "isn't worth the paper it's written on".

Ireland is willing to examine ways in which a backstop to keep the Irish border open after Brexit could be reviewed so long as it does not permit Britain to unilaterally walk away from it, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had said on Monday.

But he made clear that he would not accept an arrangement which gave the United Kingdom unilateral powers to ditch the customs union without the agreement of Brussels.

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.

"Such an outcome will have serious consequences for economy of Irish Republic".

Donaldson said that he could not understand why the Irish government "seems so intent on this course".

"Deal or no deal, it's becoming clearer by the day that the United Kingdom is headed for a miserable Brexit". In the 2016 referendum, they voted 52-48% in favour of Brexit. "Only a People's Vote offers the United Kingdom a real choice over our future".

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